6 Ways Congress Can Fight for America’s Recovery Right Now

United Way Monterey County has been working together with partners to support the most vulnerable in our community, and we need help of our Congressional representatives. 

The coronavirus has had a devastating impact on workers, families and businesses in Monterey County. Our community is hurting, and without immediate action from Congress, even more people will lose the federal supports that are keeping them from economic collapse. 

Thanks to the bipartisan efforts from Senator Feinstein, Senator Harris, and Representative Panetta, Congress has passed legislation to help families stay in their homes, keep food on the table, and make ends meet. But now, Congress must act quickly and in a continued bipartisan manner to pass another bill to address the long-lasting impact of this pandemic. 

Here are six ways Congress can act:

Expand universal charitable giving incentives
Demand for nonprofit services in Monterey County have skyrocketed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet, charitable donations across the U.S. dropped by 6% in the first quarter of 2020 due to job loss and economic uncertainty. 

The temporary $300 charitable deduction included in the CARES Act is a step in the right direction. By co-sponsoring the bipartisan Universal Giving Pandemic Response Act, the charitable tax deduction will be expanded and Congress will incentivize more charitable giving.

Expand the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit (CTC) for working individuals and families
EITC and CTC are some of the best tools we have to fight poverty. When the economy weakens, many workers lose their earned income and thus would no longer qualify for the EITC, which helps them stabilize their income. Filers should be able to use their income from 2019 or 2020 when calculating their 2020 EITC and CTC, as policymakers have done for families affected by other natural disasters in the past. 

We’re also calling for an expansion of the Child Tax Credit and Earned Income Tax Credit as effective policies for stimulating a weak economy. This year our VITA program helped working families claim over $1Million in EITC and $700,000 in Child Tax Credits, money that will be used to cover the essentials such as food, transportation, and electric bills. 

Increase funding for Medicaid
Medicaid is a lifeline for millions, especially during today’s joint health and economic crisis. In order to protect families and provide access to much-needed care, states need increased Federal Medical Assistance Percentages (FMAP) funding.

Increased FMAP funding reaches states quickly and frees up dollars that can now be reallocated to areas of greatest need. 

Provide supplemental emergency funding for programs that support the financial stability of families and communities
Congress should invest in programs that are supporting our community response including $150 million for 211, $17 million for Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program (VITA), $200 million for Emergency Food and Shelter Program (EFSP), and $50 billon to stabilize the childcare sector. We have a proud track record of delivering these services to Monterey County, such as the recent distribution of $700K for emergency food and shelter services. These are our core strategies to deliver financial stability to families in Monterey County. Supplemental emergency funding will leverage our ability to do more.

Increase monthly Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits
Since COVID-19, there has been a spike in families experiencing food insecurity. Our community agencies have gone to extraordinary efforts to distribute food, but a SNAP benefit increase would enhance access for all in need.

When American families were facing elevated hunger and food insecurity in wake of the 2008 Recession, Congress increased monthly SNAP benefits by 15% to meet the moment. In the face of a pandemic and even deeper economic crisis, surely Congress can make this same commitment today.

Invest More in Enhanced Unemployment Insurance and Economic Impact Payments
W
e must further extend unemployment insurance benefits to respond to the continuing job losses and furloughs happening across the country. We also must provide additional cash support for individuals and families, including seniors and very-low income Americans, so they have access to this critical support.

During this crisis, United Way Monterey County continues to help people connect to services and access benefits, such as safe quality child care. We know our families and communities can’t wait.

Senator Feinstein, Senator Harris, Representative Panetta: Monterey County is counting on you to act for America’s recovery now.

Doug Yount
Board Chair

  Katy Castagna
President and CEO