WASHINGTON, DC -- In an effort to target relief to communities of color that are being hit hardest by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) is teaming up with Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and 13 Senate colleagues to introduce the Economic Justice Act.

This new $350 billion proposal would direct $135 billion for child care, community health care, school improvement, job training, and capital support for small businesses along with $215 billion to expand Medicaid, invest in critical community infrastructure, and provide targeted tax credits for renters and homeowners. 

The Senators are seeking to include the Economic Justice Act in the next coronavirus-relief package.  To offset the cost of the proposal, the lawmakers are seeking to reprogram funds from untapped U.S. Treasury programs to help Black Americans and other people of color during the pandemic and beyond.

“Long before the pandemic, long before this recession, long before this year’s protests, structural inequalities have persisted in health care and housing, the economy and education,” said Senator Schumer.  “COVID-19 has only magnified these injustices and we must confront them with lasting, meaningful solutions that tear down economic and social barriers, and reinvest in historically underserved communities.  The Economic Justice Act is a needed step in a long journey to address systematic racism and historic underinvestment in communities of color."

“Living up to the promise of America means ensuring opportunity and justice for all.  Racial disparities and structural inequities in housing, health care, education, employment, and other foundational building blocks for advancement have held back communities of color and our country as a whole,” said Senator Reed.  “This proposal will jumpstart the urgent work of reversing economic injustice through targeted investments that have been overlooked or neglected.  We must seize this opportunity to live up to America’s ideals by tapping into our nation’s strength and unlocking equitable growth that will help America thrive.”

In addition to Schumer and Reed, the cosponsors of the Economic Justice Act include U.S. Senators Patty Murray (D-WA), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Tom Carper (D-DE), Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Mark Warner (D-VA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), and Kamala Harris (D-CA).

The proposal comes as many states are experiencing a major spike in the number of daily COVID-19 cases and with research showing that Black and Latino people bear a disproportionate share of COVID-19 illness and death in the U.S., according to a study in the journal Health Affairs.

A summary of Senate Democrats’ Economic Justice Act can be found here and below and a backgrounder can be found here: