Since the beginning of March, the United States has taken a beating. The coronavirus’s frightening spread across the country has spooked investors, impeded the workforce and ground consumption to a halt. As a result, we’ve seen the stock market suffer some of its worst weeks in history, as Americans file for unemployment in record numbers.
But in the midst of it all, U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens) has taken several bold steps to ensure that New York survives the economic crisis.
By and large, Maloney’s response has prioritized the working class – the lifeblood of New York’s economy. On Mar. 18, she lead 106 members of Congress in writing a letter calling for a nationwide moratorium on all foreclosures and evictions on federally-backed properties.
“As the number of infected individuals and the number of broken supply chains rises, we must take proactive steps to protect the millions of working-class families, low-income households, and minority communities who will be disproportionately affected as increasingly aggressive quarantine measures develop and are implemented on the local, state, and federal levels,” read the letter.
On the same day, she co-signed a letter to Governor Andrew Cuomo (D), asking that he enact a 90-day moratorium on evictions for commercial renters.
Maloney’s efforts saw immediate results. The following day, President Donald Trump (R) held a press conference announcing a two-month eviction and foreclosure suspension; the day after, Cuomo announced a 90-day moratorium on evictions for both residential and commercial tenants.
The congresswoman has also supported efforts to address the immediacy of the crisis. On Mar. 20, the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, of which Maloney is the chair, received a telephone briefing from Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Peter T. Gaynor. During the briefing, Maloney pressured Gaynor to issue a “Major Disaster Declaration” for New York State, noting that her state had the highest concentration of COVID-19 patients in the country.
Gaynor honored the request two days later. In doing so, he formally acknowledged that New York’s crisis was beyond what its state and local governments could handle, thus entitling it to federal support.
“I am thankful that FEMA has recognized the gravity of New York’s situation and issued our nation’s first coronavirus related Major Disaster Declaration,” said Maloney. “As the national epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic, New York must do everything in our power to stop the spread of the virus.”
Maloney has been no less active on the legislative front. In early March, she actively supported and voted in favor of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. The act’s provisions include free COVID-19 testing, two weeks of paid sick leave, and $1 billion in funding to provide food for pregnant women and mothers with young children.
“As our nation grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic, we need to make sure that families across this country have the resources they need to take care of themselves and their loved ones,” said Maloney. “I urge the Senate to send this bill to the President’s desk immediately.”
The act passed the House on Mar. 14, passed the Senate on Mar. 18, and was signed by President Trump later that day.
Finally, Maloney played a significant role during the negotiation process for the soon-to-pass $2 trillion relief package. The bill includes several provisions that she, along with her colleague Senator Gary Peters (D-MI), proposed. One such provision is the establishment of a Pandemic Response Accountability Committee (PRAC), whose role will be providing oversight to identify and prosecute wasteful or fraudulent spending under the Act. Another is the allocation of $20 million towards the Government Accountability Office (GAO), to help it perform the same function.
On the whole, she expressed deep satisfaction with the bill that Congress ultimately conceived.
“I want to offer my deepest appreciation to the Democratic negotiating team, led by our peerless Speaker and Minority Leader Schumer, which so dramatically improved the legislation from the original bill that Senate Republicans initially tried to pass,” said Maloney. “The achievement of this legislation is not the speed with which it was assembled, but the breadth of its vision to focus on direct assistance to individuals and conditioning so much of the aid to companies on keeping our friends and neighbors employed. Getting through this moment in history will be eased for many because of the hard-won provisions of this legislation achieved by the Democrats.”