Election Message and COVID Relief

November 12, 2020

Last week, Americans made their voices heard at the ballot box in one of the world’s largest exercises of democracy. Given the extraordinary context in which this election took place, misinformation has abounded online about the integrity of the election. President Trump has, with no evidence, alleged widespread voter fraud and has refused to concede. In light of these allegations and the effort to undermine faith in our democracy,  local officials throughout the country have resoundingly verified that there is no evidence of voter fraud or irregularities in counting, and multiple international observers concluded that the U.S. elections "were well managed despite legal uncertainties and logistical challenges." As noted in our EPPN Election Series, "The United States, to a remarkable degree given our size and the diversity of our election systems, has election processes that are difficult to defraud or manipulate. In short, the election process itself is very likely to be straightforward and fair, up and down the ballot."
 
Indeed, despite the challenges of unprecedented early and mail-in voting and the election occurring in the midst of a pandemic, there were some meaningful and remarkable successes this election across the 50 states. The 2020 election also had the highest voter turnout percentage since 1900: nearly 67% of eligible voters participated in this election, or roughly 160 million people. Although there had been some concerns about unrest leading up to the election, Election Day was peaceful. Thank you to all of you who contributed in a myriad of ways to making this election a success, from supporting get out the vote efforts to serving as poll workers and poll chaplains!
 
While we enter this transition period, always a vulnerable time for the country, we must stay engaged in the political process. As we often say in OGR, civic engagement occurs year-round – not just during an election season! We now have the opportunity to take energy emerging from this election and push for meaningful reforms, including voting reform, in the next Congress.
 
Coronavirus Relief
While our attention has been focused on the elections, the COVID-19 pandemic has continued to devastate the American people. The U.S. has already set all-time records in daily case counts this month, overwhelming hospitals and raising the death toll from the virus to more than 240,000 Americans. Despite a decrease in unemployment according to the latest federal jobs report, millions remain out of work and 54 million Americans are facing food insecurity
 
The CARES Act, the last economic relief bill, helped stanch some of the bleeding in the economy and prevent a depression by providing financial relief to families and businesses in need. The reality of the pandemic has made it clear that more congressional relief is needed to address the hardship that tens of millions of Americans are enduring.
 
In a previous action alert, we urged you to join the Office of Government Relations in advocating for legislation that addressed multiple facets of the COVID-19 crisis. We are asking you to keep up the pressure! Our areas of focus are as follows: 
 
Increased Food Assistance
As tens of millions of Americans forgo meals and approach the cusp of hunger, Congress should increase the maximum Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefit by 15 percent (1985-AO80). This will give food-insecure SNAP recipients peace of mind during a crisis whose conclusion remains elusive.
 
Protections for Immigrants 
Past COVID-19 relief legislation excluded undocumented individuals, increasing their hardship and financial pain. It is imperative that Congress ensures access to testing, treatment, and paid medical and family leave, regardless of immigration status (2018-C009).
 
State and Local Funding
States and localities are experiencing budget shortfalls not seen since the Great Recession that could amount to be the worst on record. General Convention has long affirmed the importance of the social safety net to the well-being of this country. State and local governments play a vital role in the delivery of safety net services, and Congress should provide support to ensure that the most vulnerable are not left behind (2015-A092).
 
International Programs
The International Monetary Fund has warned that without substantial assistance, the 2020s could become a “lost decade” for low-income developing countries. The global number of individuals facing extreme poverty is on pace to rise by as many as 150 million people by 2021. We urge Congress to provide $20 billion to support the global response to COVID-19. As a global leader, the U.S. must work with other countries to defeat COVID-19 both here at home and around the world, as our well-being depends on countries working collectively.  
 
Housing Assistance 
Millions of beleaguered families are struggling to pay rent as the harmful socioeconomic effects of the virus persist. While the CDC’s eviction moratorium is laudable, it should be extended after its expiration on January 1. Furthermore, Congress should appropriate funds to ensure that renters can remain in their homes and landlords can cover their expenses.  
 
As we approach the end of this year, we wish you an Advent of peace and solace. May we remember these words from Romans 12: 14-15: “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another.” May the Lord continue to hold us all in His mighty hands. Congress to provide $20 billion to support the global response to COVID-19. As a global leader, the U.S. must work with other countries to defeat COVID-19 both here at home and around the world, as our well-being depends on countries working collectively.