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NEW YORK – Climate activists are pleased with much of the new proposed stimulus bill, but they are urging Congress to make sure it puts the needs of people over corporate profits.
The House could vote today on the proposed HEROES Act, a new $3 trillion stimulus and relief package. Many progressives are praising the bill for incorporating elements of the Essential Workers Bill of Rights proposed by Senator Elizabeth Warren.
They include economic protections for essential workers regardless of immigration status, extended unemployment benefits and $25 billion for the U.S. Postal Service. But according to Thanu Yakupitiyage, U.S. communications director at ‘350.org,’ it could go even further.
“It should include key provisions of the ReWIND Act,” says Yakupitiyage, “to prevent oil corporations from exploiting the COVID pandemic for financial gain.”
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‘350.org’ has compiled a list of seven policy priorities the group says would strengthen worker protections and help pave the way for a climate-resilient recovery.
Those priorities include protecting all essential workers, expanding access to affordable health care and protecting people and the planet from climate change. And Yakupitiyage says all states must offer the option to vote by mail, for all elections.
“We can’t ignore the fact that there’s an election this year,” says Yakupitiyage. “So, we want to make sure that our democracy is intact, and that people are able to vote in these elections without putting themselves at risk.”
She believes the federal government should provide additional funding so states can implement vote-by-mail and ensure that elections are conducted fairly.
Yakupitiyage points out that recovering from the impacts of the pandemic can be seen as an opportunity to look for new solutions that benefit everyone. But to find those solutions, lawmakers need to ask a new set of questions.
“What does long-term just recovery look like?” asks Yakupitiyage. “What does it mean to be climate resilient, and what does it mean to invest in a ‘Green New Deal’ that actually makes sure that we are never in a crisis like this again?”