Is the GOP crazy enough to defeat the HEROES Act?

BY:Communist Party USA| July 17, 2020
Is the GOP crazy enough to defeat the HEROES Act?


The HEROES Act passed in the House on May 15, but it has no chance of passing the Senate and getting Trump’s signature.

Or does it?

First, what would the HEROES Act accomplish, and why should we fight for it? Here are only a few of the provisions found in the 1,800-page act, many of which extend the CARES Act.

  • Extends the $600 weekly payments for the unemployed through January 2021.
  • Extends food and nutrition assistance to families and food banks and waives work requirements for two years for recipients of SNAP benefits.
  • Renews the $1,200 payments and extends this cash payment to immigrants without legal status.
  • Provides further assistance to non-status immigrants, who were ignored in the CARES Act: releases some immigrants from ICE detention, protects essential workers from deportation, and more.
  • Supports farmers who sell their food locally and grow specialty crops; provides grants to farmers and ranchers to pay essential workers a $13/hour premium; offers whistle-blower protections to farm workers and workers in processing plants who face dangerous working conditions.
  • Extends eviction and foreclosure moratorium to all renters and homeowners; provides emergency rental assistance and funding for mortgage and utility payments.

The need for emergency assistance is undeniable. Before the pandemic and ensuing economic crisis, the economy was starting to take a hit. Now, the official unemployment rate is over 20%, and economists are warning that we’re headed for an all-out depression. On July 31, when the $600 weekly unemployment benefit ends, people will face even starker choices between buying groceries, paying the rent, or paying their water bills. The HEROES Act would not address the systemic problems, but it would provide much-needed relief.

Let’s take a look at two reasons the HEROES Act is winnable: the president and the GOP are on the defensive, and the democratic movement is on the offensive.

First, the president is facing more and more opposition. As COVID-19 deaths mount, unemployment claims rise, and protesters continue their calls for defunding and dismantling the police, Trump’s approval ratings go down. Various polls taken this week show approval of his handling of the economy as low as 44%, his handling of the pandemic at 35%, and overall approval at 36%. But polls are a snapshot of a moment and don’t tell the whole story.

Trump’s missteps and disgusting actions tell another story. They are so numerous that it’s difficult to count them. (Easier to quantify, though, are his lies; over 20,000 false or misleading claims, according to the Washington Post.) Recent ones include the violent dispersal of a protest to clear the way for his photo-op in which he held the Bible upside down; holding a rally in Tulsa where few cared to show up and contract the virus; refusing to wear a mask until recently; and walking back his recent order to force immigrant students to attend college classes in person.

Trump’s most egregious action, or lack of, is a crime against humanity: his absolute refusal to provide a comprehensive approach to defeating COVID-19, leading to thousands of deaths (and counting) that could have been prevented. Like George W. Bush, Trump has blood on his hands as he wages a war on the American people. His insistence that schools and the economy re-open will lead to more deaths if he gets his way. No wonder that 62% of voters polled think Trump is doing more harm than good in the fight against the pandemic.

The Trump Administration has faced a few losses in the courts, despite larding the highest court in the land with right wingers. In May, the Supreme Court ruled that medically vulnerable and aging prisoners must be removed from an Alabama prison where COVID-19 is raging—a move the administration opposed. More recently, the Court ruled that no one is above the law and that the New York District Attorney and Congress have the right to obtain Trump’s tax returns. The Court reinstated DACA for now. And a federal court ordered the temporary shut-down of the Dakota Access Pipeline until a proper environmental review is done.

In short, No. 45 is on the defensive.

So is the Republican Party. Until the pandemic, the Senate was considered safe in the November elections. Not so much now. Political watchers are looking at four Republican-held seats (Arizona, Colorado, Maine, and North Carolina) that could go Democrat. Could it be that more and more voters are tired of Trump and, by extension, the sycophant Republicans?

Another threat to the GOP is coming from long-time Republicans who are urging their conservative compatriots to vote for Biden and are running ads against the president.

The GOP reaction to the HEROES Act is a sign that the Republicans are under pressure from the American people. At first, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refused to negotiate with the House and sent the Senate home for a vacation for the first two weeks of July. Now they’re on board with a “stimulus” package of some sort and support a repeat of the $1,200 payments, although they want to whittle down the $3 trillion House bill to $1 trillion. This may be political posturing, but it’s also an acknowledgment that the Republicans will have to pass some kind of aid package if they want to keep the Senate.

With the president and GOP on the defensive, democratic movements are on the rise, and in a big way. The George Floyd protests have been transformed into a movement calling for wholesale transformation of public safety and for an end to systemic racism. The depth and breadth of this movement—from big cities to rural areas, inclusive of people of all walks of life—is significant.

Voting patterns also indicate that we’re experiencing more democracy, even in the midst of an extreme-right political atmosphere. We saw it in the Wisconsin primary, when voters risked their lives and turned out in large numbers to defeat the GOP’s pick for Supreme Court justice. Voter turnout in the primaries is hitting record highs, notably in Georgia, where voters in the Democratic Senate primary numbered three times as in the 2016 primary—despite long lines, lack of voting machines, and shortage of ballots in precincts with majority black and brown populations.

The HEROES Act, while imperfect, is worth fighting for. It can meet people’s immediate needs and save lives. But here’s the perennial question: why fight for reforms when we should be fighting for socialism?

First, the struggle for reforms is the only road to socialism. Workers need to gain experience in struggle, and they need the experience of winning. When they see that together, they have power to create change, they will demand more positive change. From the fight for Medicare For All to a more advanced struggle for universal health care, from student loan forgiveness to tuition-free college, from community control and defunding of policing to an end to systemic racism—struggles are built and won, one leading to another. By engaging in struggle, people draw conclusions that, for example, while important, it isn’t enough to defund the police; we have to dismantle the entire racist economic system in which policing plays only one part. Second, we can advocate and struggle for reforms and socialism at the same time. These struggles are not mutually exclusive.

We call on everyone to support the HEROES Act. Contact your senators today. If they support the legislation, thank them; if they oppose it, demand that they push McConnell to bring it up for a vote and to vote yes. Spread the word on social media and through your organizations.

Together, we can win this.

Image: Joe Piette, Creative Commons (BY-NC-SA 2.0).





    The Communist Party USA is a  revolutionary working-class  political party founded in 1919 in Chicago, IL. The Communist Party stands for the interests of the American working class and the American people. It stands for our interests in both the present and the future. Solidarity with workers of other countries is also part of our work. We work in coalition with the labor movement, the peace movement, the student movement, organizations fighting for equality and social justice, the environmental movement, immigrants rights groups and the health care for all campaign. But to win a better life for working families, we believe that we must go further. We believe that the American people can replace capitalism with a system that puts people before profit — socialism. We are rooted in our country's revolutionary history and its struggles for democracy. We call for "Bill of Rights" socialism, guaranteeing full individual freedoms.

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