The Senate needs to act on COVID relief now

Dec 2, 2020

The need-to-know:

  • On Dec. 31, most federal COVID-19 relief will end, including student loan deferment and the PUA program.
  • The Senate is far from reaching an agreement on a comprehensive relief bill.
  • Some relief measures could be snuck into a temporary budget bill known as a continuing resolution.
  • It’s time to apply pressure to your Senate representatives, as well as Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. (Find our email script below.)

It’s hard to believe we’re in the same position we found ourselves in back in July, as the $600/week FPUC benefit was about to expire. At that time, the Senate was locked in a political stalemate, refusing to pass the House HEROES 2 package that would have extended that benefit, as well as including many. At the end of July, FPUC expired, and millions of freelancers who had been making ends meet on the PUA assistance program were left making an unlivable fraction of their previous wage.

Today, we’re in an even more dangerous situation. On December 31, nearly all of the provisions of the CARES Act will expire. Among the relief measures that will end are:

The sad fact is that when CARES was passed in March, nobody could imagine that this crisis could last more than nine months, or that we would be in a worse position at the end of the year than we were back in the spring of 2020. But that’s exactly what has happened. Right now, COVID-19 cases are spiking dramatically in every state in the country. The federal government has abdicated responsibility for the health of its citizens.

We’re in for a hard winter, and it will only be harder if millions of working people are not given the economic relief they need to keep them in their homes, keep their families fed, and provide them the ability to stay safe from this rampant disease.

The current funding bill runs out Dec. 11. This is the moment to flood the Senate with your calls, emails, and letters. Contact your senator, as well as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and let them know you demand a comprehensive relief package that will keep freelancers safe. Use our email template when you get in touch:

Dear Senator [NAME],
I am your constituent and a member of the Freelancers Union. I write today to express deep concern about the millions of freelance and self-employed workers like myself who continue to experience unprecedented income loss because of the COVID-19 pandemic. With PUA set to expire in weeks, we are on the edge of even greater financial catastrophe.
[Tell your personal story with PUA/UI here, if you have one]
I urge you today to support freelancers and all Americans in the next relief bill by instituting the proposals below:
1. Extend Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation at $600 until the pandemic is over and implement it retroactively to September 1st.
2. Require states to calculate all mixed earned income for freelancers in PUA eligibility determinations and assistance calculations to ensure that freelancers are fairly awarded unemployment assistance.
3. Expand Pandemic Unemployment Assistance to include all workers who have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Current guidance extends PUA to individuals who are quarantined or have contracted COVID-19, are caring for family members with COVID-19, or have had their places of employment shut down because of COVID-19. This definition leaves out the hundreds of thousands of freelancers who have experienced canceled contracts due to the sharp decline in the economy.
4. Extend a monthly stimulus payment of $2,000.
5. Establish rent and mortgage forgiveness.
The next stimulus package must serve freelancers. I urge you to prioritize these policy changes.