03.13.20

Statement On President Trump's National Security Declaration

I am glad that President Trump took the responsible step this afternoon of making an emergency declaration under the Stafford Act.  This will free up billions of dollars to assist the government-wide response to the coronavirus and provide states and local governments with the resources they need.

But this is not a substitute for Congress acting and the President signing legislation to provide assistance to families and the American people as they confront this crisis at home and in their communities.  The solutions we craft must put families first.  The American people need the assurance that there will be paid sick leave, unemployment insurance, nutrition assistance, and affordable testing available to them in the days and weeks ahead. 

Former Vermont Senator Robert Stafford, a friend and mentor of mine and the namesake of the Stafford Act under which the President acted today, knew this when he wrote these authorities into law.  These resources are necessary, but they do not help the waitress in Vermont trying to feed her children or pay her rent.  They do not help the janitor who is forced to make the difficult decision between losing a paycheck or staying home if he feels slightly unwell.  What the President announced today is welcome, as far as it goes, but it does not go far enough to meet the deepening needs and concerns of American families.  Congress needs to act on comprehensive legislation to provide direct assistance to the American people as we face this unprecedented challenge. 

I am confident our country will emerge from this crisis stronger than we were before, as we always have, but we must act now, and we must put America’s families first.

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