Connecting with Washingtonians During our National Crises

Next week, the Senate will be back in session and will start working on additional coronavirus relief legislation — something Democrats have been pushing for weeks but Leader McConnell and Republicans have strongly resisted.

It has been clear since the beginning of this pandemic that families, communities, workers, and states and Tribal Nations need strong federal support to survive this pandemic. Previous legislation passed by Congress in recent weeks was a good place to start, but there is so much more we need to do — like lifting up our child care system, ensuring families can remain in their homes, continuing to strengthen our testing capacity and health care system, preparing to efficiently disseminate a safe and effective vaccine, and more.

Before the Senate starts discussing this new relief package, I spent time this past week talking to local leaders and organizations across Washington state to hear firsthand about the challenges they’re facing and how the federal government can best support their work through this crisis.

I spoke with state and local leaders across Washington to hear about the challenges renters and homeowners are facing. I heard how the eviction moratorium has been crucial for so many families, but there are serious concerns about the moratorium being lifted too soon and individuals and families not being able to afford their rent or mortgage — potentially making them even more susceptible to COVID-19. These leaders also talked about the importance of strengthening funding for Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) — which help local governments continue to provide critical services to the most vulnerable individuals — expanding SNAP and other meal assistance programs, and more.

Additionally, supporting our child care system is central to our nation’s ability to safely reopen. No one knows this better than child care providers, workers, and working families, some of whom I spoke with this week about their challenges and needs. I fought to secure $58 million in funding for child care in Washington in the CARES Act as a vital first investment, and since then have introduced additional legislation — the Coronavirus Child Care and Education Relief Act — to bridge the child care gap and ensure providers can remain open or safely reopen, educators can continue to get paid, and working families can access the child care they need.

Check out this KING5 story for more on the child care crisis.

LISTEN: I spoke with Mark Baumgarten for the latest episode of Crosscut Talks.

We covered everything from our nation’s continued response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the importance of safely re-opening our schools and colleges, and next steps to address police brutality and systemic racism on the federal level.

The people the coronavirus will hurt the most are those who our policies and systems already put at a stark disadvantage. I had a productive discussion with community health leaders in South Seattle and King County to talk about the work that they’re doing to keep their neighborhoods safe and healthy during this health emergency, and how we can make sure every part of our nation’s pandemic response addresses the disparities Black communities and other communities of color face.

I also connected with organizations in Seattle who work to address homelessness, and heard firsthand about the challenges they face to carry out their vital work during this uncertain time. Not only is there a need for more support to handle the increased demand, but these organizations need the infrastructure and supplies, like PPE, to safely care for those in need — and that requires funding.

I’m so grateful for the incredible work everyone in Washington state is doing to support their communities during this uncertain and unprecedented time. I will take what I heard this week from leaders, advocates and constituents across the state and make sure their voices are heard as Congress negotiates additional relief legislation.

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