CLEVELAND, OH – In Case You Missed It, U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) penned an op-ed in Cleveland.com about supporting Ohio workers by protecting their health during the COVID-19 pandemic. Brown voted to pass the Coronavirus stimulus bill that would send immediate relief to our health care system and to American workers struggling as a result of the pandemic. Brown has been fighting to put assistance directly in the pockets of workers, expand Unemployment Insurance, provide the resources and personal protective equipment (PPE) our frontline health care workers need, and more. After President Trump and the Senate GOP produced a pro-corporate bailout at the expense of workers, Brown went to work to improve the deal and help put workers first.
“The economy is about people – it’s made up of workers doing their jobs and making their companies successful, of entrepreneurs starting and sustaining businesses, and of families supporting their communities. If we lose sight of that, we lose sight of our common humanity and the dignity of all work,” wrote Brown.
You can read Brown’s Cleveland.com op-ed here and below:
By: Sherrod Brown
March 29, 2020
CLEVELAND -- The most important thing we can do to support Ohio workers and sustain our economy is to stop the spread of the coronavirus and save lives.
Some want to pit “the economy” against our efforts to fight this pandemic – but that’s a false choice. The economy is about people – it’s made up of workers doing their jobs and making their companies successful, of entrepreneurs starting and sustaining businesses, and of families supporting their communities. If we lose sight of that, we lose sight of our common humanity and the dignity of all work.
Put simply, if we don’t save lives now, there won’t be an economy left to save.
In the middle of a crisis, now is the time to come together as Ohioans and as Americans. If we all do our part, if we listen to public health experts, and if we act quickly to get resources where they are needed, we can beat this. We can save the lives of our friends and neighbors, we can help small businesses weather this storm, we can protect our front-line health care providers, and we can support workers and help them go back to work when it is safe.
The administration wasted precious time earlier this year, putting our country’s response behind where we should be. But our Ohio officials of both parties have done an excellent job, trying to make up for the administration’s lost time. I’m working with Gov. Mike DeWine and with my colleagues of both parties to get help directly to Ohio workers, and to our health care system. In the Senate, we have worked over the past month on three comprehensive aid packages.
My priority in all of these negotiations has been getting help directly to Ohioans. The most recent, and largest, bill does that.
This legislation will put up to $1,200 directly into the pockets of every single middle-class and low-income Ohioan. It represents a Marshall Plan for our hospitals that will get resources to our health care workers immediately. It expands unemployment insurance by $600 per week and ensures that all workers – including contract workers, self-employed, and part-time workers – can get the benefits they need to support themselves until it’s safe to go back to work. It gets funding to the state of Ohio and cities and counties, to help them avoid cutting jobs and services.
And it places a moratorium on evictions and foreclosures during this crisis, and up to a year of mortgage forbearance that allows homeowners to delay payments. No one should be thrown out of her home during this crisis.
I will do everything I can to make sure that we get these resources to the people and communities who need them now – and to make sure money actually ends up in the pockets of workers.
When we got the first draft of the bill spearheaded by Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, it wasn’t good enough. It didn’t help our hospitals or our families. And it didn’t do enough to make sure aid actually went to workers.
So we went to work. We negotiated all weekend, and while the bill we passed is not perfect, we made this a better deal for workers, for families, and for communities.
One of my priorities now will be holding this administration and companies receiving aid accountable. The American people are watching – and they will not stand for more Wall Street giveaways, while workers get left behind.
Of course, we also know we have a lot more work to do. This crisis is different from anything we’ve seen in our lifetimes. It’s going to take a sustained response over many months to make sure people can get back on their feet.
While the bill we passed delays payments on federal student loans, we must do more to help the millions of Americans who were already struggling under the burden of student loan debt. And we need to make sure people don’t take an unfair hit to their credit reports while we all deal with the economic fallout of coronavirus.
We also must do more to support our American manufacturers in their efforts to ramp up medical equipment production. Hospitals and health care workers in Ohio are facing a dire shortage of Personal Protective Equipment, or PPE – equipment like N95 face masks, gloves, and gowns – and other critical devices, like respirators. In a country as rich as ours, with talented manufacturers ready to get to work, that’s unacceptable.
That’s why I released a plan to immediately mobilize American manufacturers to eliminate supply shortages, and help us fight this virus. Week before last, I got on the phone with American textile and fabric manufacturers, and they made it clear they are ready to go to work to serve our country – but they need coordination, guidance, and support to do this effectively.
I sent a letter to President Donald Trump outlining my plan to do that. The president also needs to use the Defense Production Act to provide funding to manufacturers to help them scale up production of testing kits, PPE, and other key equipment. So far, with the exception of his Friday invocation of the act to compel General Motors Corp. to make ventilators, the president has refused, while health care workers face desperate supply shortages.
We know our country has the workers, the expertise, and the resources to fight this pandemic.
It’s time for us to come together as Ohioans, and as Americans, to rise to this challenge.
Sen. Sherrod Brown, Democrat of Cleveland, is the senior U.S. senator from Ohio.