The Columbus Dispatch: Ohio Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown blasts GOP COVID relief plan as inadequate


The Columbus Dispatch: Ohio Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown blasts GOP COVID relief plan as inadequate

Sen. Sherrod Brown on Wednesday ripped a Republican coronavirus relief plan, saying it does not do nearly enough to help struggling workers and families through the health and economic crisis sparked by the COVID-19 pandemic.

During a call with reporters, the Ohio Democrat said the GOP proposal cuts unemployment benefits, provides no funding for state and local governments faced with budget shortfalls, and offers no assistance for renters or homeowners on the verge of losing their homes.

“All of those things Sen. Mitch McConnell hasn’t done much about, but what the bill did was shield corporations from lawsuits when they put their workers’ health and safety at risk. It does nothing for Ohio pensioners and retirees,” Brown said.

The GOP plan, released Monday, would slash a supplemental federal unemployment benefit from $600 to $200 a week until October when a new formula would provide jobless workers up to 70% of their previous earnings. The plan includes another round of $1,200 stimulus checks for individuals making no more than $75,000 annually, provides another $190 billion for Paycheck Protection Program loans, shields businesses from liability in pandemic-related claims and provides billions for a new FBI headquarters and defense outlays.

Brown said the $600-a-week unemployment benefit included in the first stimulus bill and set to expire this week “saved a lot of people from poverty.” While many Republicans argue that the additional aid discouraged work, Brown argued that many Americans still don’t have jobs to which they can return.

“The McConnell bill does not serve our state and does not serve our country. Ohioans deserve better,” Brown said.

He also announced that he would introduce the Protect American Heroes Act to increase U.S. production and stockpiles of personal protection equipment (PPE) and other issues to better ready the country’s national emergency stockpile.

“It will make sure we are better prepared for a pandemic and quickly upscale American production of supplies we will need. It requires supplies in our national stockpile are made in the United States, it would make funding for the national stockpile mandatory,” Brown said. ”(Let’s) be clear: The president has failed in his response to this pandemic from Day 1.

“The American people should not have to fend for themselves in the middle of a pandemic. That is the reason for my bill. We need a plan now in place that allows our factories and workers to ramp up production quickly to make sure we are better prepared for any future emergencies.”

Brown said the coronavirus pandemic exposed shortages and the nation’s over-reliance on foreign-made goods.

“This bill shouldn’t be necessary. This should have happened at the White House months and months and months ago,” he said.

Brown offered few other details about the bill, includng its cost, or whether there would be a companion bill in the U.S. House.

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