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Democrats propose $350 billion in aid for minority communities in next COVID-19 bill

Democrats propose $350 billion in aid for minority communities in next COVID-19 bill
© Greg Nash

Senate Democrats want to include $350 billion in aid for communities of color as part of the next coronavirus-relief package, with negotiations expected to start as soon as next week.

The proposal — unveiled by Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerPew poll: 50 percent approve of Democrats in Congress Former state Rep. Vernon Jones launches challenge to Kemp in Georgia Schumer lays groundwork for future filibuster reform MORE (D-N.Y.) on Thursday — would provide $135 billion for jobs, child care, and mental health and primary care. The other $215 billion would be for infrastructure, a homeowner down payment tax credit and expanding Medicaid.

"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," Schumer said in a statement. "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."

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"The Economic Justice Act is a needed step in a long journey to address systematic racism and historic underinvestment in communities of color," he added, referring to the legislation encompassing the $350 billion in aid.

Fifteen Senate Democrats, including Schumer, are co-sponsors of the Economic Justice Act, the cost of which would be partially paid for by reprogramming $200 billion in unspent funds from the March $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief bill known as the CARES Act.

The proposal comes as states across the country are seeing a spike in the number of daily coronavirus cases. The U.S. hit an all-time high for the number of cases per day on Tuesday when it had approximately 67,400 cases, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

Minorities have been disproportionately impacted by the coronavirus. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data from mid-June found that African Americans had a hospitalization rate five times higher than that of whites, while Latinos were being hospitalized at a rate four times that of the white population.

Congress is set to return to Washington on Monday, leaving them just a few weeks to hammer out a deal on another coronavirus package.

House Democrats passed a roughly $3 trillion bill in late May but Senate Republicans are working on their own piece of legislation with the White House. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellPew poll: 50 percent approve of Democrats in Congress Pelosi on power in DC: 'You have to seize it' Progressives put Democrats on defense MORE (R-Ky.) is expected to start briefing his caucus on the measure next week.