Senator Warren’s Response to the Coronavirus Emergency
Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a global public health emergency that poses serious health, diplomatic, and economic threats to our nation. Senator Warren is fighting to ensure that workers on the front lines of this pandemic have the resources they need and that racial and ethinic disparities in testing and treatment are made public and addressed. She foresaw the risks and, as early as 2017, pushed the Trump Administration to put resources and programs in place to respond to a pandemic. She has proposed a series of plans to get us through this crisis, including plans to rapidly expand diagnostic testing and to greatly scale up federal resources for workers, hospitals, small businesses, and state and local governments, so that they can weather this crisis and to stabilize our economy. Her ongoing efforts include the following:
Responding to the Public Health Emergency
Senator Warren has pressed the Trump Administration to respond effectively to deliver the robust set of resources needed to address this public health emergency. She recently unveiled detailed plans to increase diagnostic testing nationwide and has consistently sounded the alarm over the Trump Administration's failure to deliver federal support for testing and care in Massachusetts. Since the beginning of the outbreak, she has:
Worked with her colleagues to pass a stimulus package that includes $100 billion for health facilities like hospitals, $1.3 billion for Community Health Centers, $150 billion for state and local governments to combat coronavirus. Massachusetts will receive an estimated $2.67 billion from this stimulus package.
We face a public health crisis that threatens to bring another Great Depression. Families, hospitals, & small businesses need immediate aid. This is not the bill I wanted, but its immediate investments are vital. They are also insufficient. We will need to do more – and soon.— Elizabeth Warren (@SenWarren) March 26, 2020
Laid out additional steps Congress should take to increase the supplies of diagnostic testing for COVID-19 and the resources needed to administer these tests nationwide.
Called on President Trump to invoke the Defense Production Act to ramp up production of essential medical equipment and co-sponsored legislation to force President Trump to do so. She also led her colleagues in calling on the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to cease its lobbying efforts against the use of the Defense Production Act which is endangering the public health and economic needs of millions of Americans.
We’re weeks past the point that President Trump should be using the Defense Production Act as “leverage” with big companies. Hospitals need ventilators, masks, & other equipment NOW. Stop asking for volunteers & start ordering America’s manufacturing industry to get to work. https://t.co/eHqF0RCokY— Elizabeth Warren (@SenWarren) March 22, 2020
Led the Massachusetts congressional delegation in urging the Federal Emergency Management Agency to immediately grant requests submitted by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health for additional ventilators from the Strategic National Stockpile as the state prepares for a surge in hospitalizations.
Massachusetts has 13,837 confirmed cases of COVID-19.— Elizabeth Warren (@SenWarren) April 6, 2020
State officials requested 1700 ventilators from @FEMA.
1000 were approved a week ago.
100 arrived this past weekend.
This is absurd. The MA delegation & I told FEMA: send our hospitals their equipment. https://t.co/zm2j4Uio6v
Along with Senator Markey, urged Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin to act quickly to ensure small businesses in Massachusetts and across the country get the help they need.
Called for a fix to the Paycheck Protection Program authorized by the CARES Act and for an elimination of the cap on total relief for small businesses affected by the pandemic.
Small businesses across America are facing collapse. But the program Congress created to help them stay afloat & keep workers on payroll has too little money and too much confusion. We need a new law to fix the program and eliminate the cap on total relief – immediately.— Elizabeth Warren (@SenWarren) April 8, 2020
Led her colleagues in the Massachusetts congressional delegation urging President Trump to direct FEMA to waive all of the traditional cost-share requirements for major disaster assistance.
After the first coronavirus case was confirmed in the United States, Senators Warren and Angus King (I-Maine) questioned USAID on the agency's 2019 decision to shutter PREDICT, a global infectious disease prevention program, which from 2009 to 2019, identified nearly 1,000 new viruses, including a new strand of Ebola; trained roughly 5,000 people; and improved or developed 60 research laboratories. On March 31st, after receiving Senator Warren's letter, the Trump Administration announced that it would expand the program for 6 months.
Joined with Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) in leading a letter to the FDA, urging the agency to loosen its outdated restrictions on gay and bisexual men donating blood in the midst of an acute blood donation shortage caused by COVID-19. The FDA then announced that it was loosening its donation restrictions--a step in the right direction towards a more equitable, evidence-based blood donation policy.
I appreciate that the @US_FDA heard our concerns about the discriminatory blood donation ban for gay & bisexual men. This decision is a step in the right direction, but I'll keep pushing until our blood donation policy is truly science-based & equitable. https://t.co/N39M3b6kzD— Elizabeth Warren (@SenWarren) April 2, 2020
Led 26 of her Senate colleagues urging President Trump to appoint a Global Health Security Expert to the National Security Council after leaving the position vacant for nearly two years. Senators Warren and Murray first raised concerns about this lack of public health leadership at the NSC in May 2018.
Sought clarification from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on the agency's legal authority to cover COVID-19 testing and treatment costs and pushed the agency to use this authority to help address the public health emergency.
Called on the Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid to create a special enrollment period to provide individuals with health insurance.
Wrote to President Trump regarding the dire conditions facing hospitals, health care providers, and first responders in Massachusetts and across the country as a result of COVID-19 and the Trump Administration's botched response.
Demanded answers on how the federal government plans to ensure the Commonwealth receives essential medical equipment as it works to combat COVID-19 following reports that the federal government is outbidding and seizing the state's orders for personal protective equipment and other essential medical supplies. She also pushed federal agencies like the Department of Department of Health and Human Services to prioritize sending resources to Massachusetts.
Trump told states they were on their own to purchase medical equipment, so that’s what MA tried to do. But then the federal government outbid MA at least 3 times – and reports show two of our orders were seized by federal authorities. This is unacceptable. https://t.co/QlyFUpkdpf— Elizabeth Warren (@SenWarren) March 31, 2020
Led the Massachusetts delegation in a letter to Vice President Pence's Coronavirus Task Force highlighting the unique needs of the state in combatting COVID-19 and urging him to take swift, specific action to support Massachusetts and other states as they combat the spread of the disease.
Led her colleagues in the Massachusetts congressional delegation in writing to the Small Business Administration (SBA) in support of the state's request for emergency assistance under the SBA's Economic Injury Disaster Loan program made as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. This request was later granted by the SBA.
Led the Massachusetts congressional delegation in urging the White House to approve the Commonwealth's request for a declaration of a federal major disaster due to the state's outbreak of COVID-19, which was then granted by the President.
Wrote to Vice President Pence's Coronavirus Task Force urging him to ensure the federal government's response to COVID-19 is grounded in scientific fact and free from political interference.
Called on President Trump to strengthen the domestic response to COVID-19 by directing the Army Corps of Engineers to convert or construct new temporary medical facilities nationwide.
The Army Corps of Engineers can help address the coronavirus public health emergency by converting or constructing new temporary medical facilities. President Trump should activate @USACEHQ immediately nationwide. https://t.co/ZLtbHxGSnL— Elizabeth Warren (@SenWarren) March 18, 2020
Sought clarification from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on the agency's legal authority to cover COVID-19 testing and treatment costs and pushed the agency to use this authority to help address the public health emergency.
Called on the Trump Administration to heed public health experts' advice on social distancing and issue clear directions to Federal Government agencies to utilize all telework capabilities for their employees to the maximum extent possible.
Too many federal workers across MA & the US are still being forced to go into work when telework is safer and available. This has to end. The Trump admin must direct agencies to use all telework capabilities NOW. The govt must lead by example, protect families, & #bendthecurve.— Elizabeth Warren (@SenWarren) March 22, 2020
Urged Vice President Pence to account for the needs of front-line workers as the White House Coronavirus Task Force addresses COVID-19.
The @USChamber is reportedly lobbying President Trump against using the Defense Production Act to address the huge shortfall of ventilators, respirators, and protective equipment needed to care for coronavirus patients. They owe Americans an explanation. https://t.co/oBHzyS91Ny— Elizabeth Warren (@SenWarren) March 23, 2020
Led the Massachusetts congressional delegation in urging President Trump to approve the request made by Governor Charlie Baker for authority and funding under Title 32 of the U.S. Code to assist the Commonwealth in deploying the National Guard to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, which was subsequently granted.
Senator Warren joined Senate HELP Committee Ranking Member Murray and 24 of their Senate colleagues pressing the Trump Administration to request emergency funding for the coronavirus response.
Joined Senator Murray and sent a letter to OMB and HHS opposing their decision to pull funding from existing public health programs to combat coronavirus rather than requesting supplemental funds from Congress.
Joined Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) on a bipartisan letter calling on HHS to establish clear guidelines for how state and local governments will be reimbursed for costs incurred while assisting the federal response to the coronavirus outbreak.
Following the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission's 2019 Annual Report that showed U.S. "growing reliance" on products critical to the manufacturing of drugs, which are primarily made in China, Senator Warren and a bipartisan group of senators wrote to the Department of Defense (DoD) seeking answers on how DoD is working to address the risk of reliance on foreign drug makers. Then, Senator Warren joined with Senator Rubio to introduce the Strengthening America's Supply Chain and National Security Act--portions of which were included in Congress' third coronavirus stimulus package.
Senator Warren wrote to federal agencies raising concerns over reports that appeared to show confusion and disagreement between federal officials earlier this month when State Department and HHS officials overruled CDC recommendations during the evacuation of American citizens with coronavirus from Japan.
Senators Warren and Markey wrote to Vice President Pence expressing their concern about the troubling press conference held on Friday, March 6, 2020, by President Trump, at which he made a series of false, politicized, and nonsensical statements about the federal government's response to the coronavirus outbreak.
Led her colleagues in requesting information on the Trump Administration's failure to ensure that diagnostic tests are available for COVID-19.
Led Senator Markey and Representatives Neal and Pressley in addressing disturbing reports of veteran deaths at Massachusetts Soldiers' Homes.
Along with Senator Markey, wrote to the Environmental Protection Agency demanding answers on the Trump administration's efforts to roll back environmental safeguards during the COVID-19 pandemic.
It’s absurd that President Trump & former coal lobbyist, now @EPA head, Andrew Wheeler are using this crisis as a cover to roll back rules that protect our air & water. The government should be focused on protecting public health, not making it worse. https://t.co/cL4r9bXcbK— Elizabeth Warren (@SenWarren) April 6, 2020
Fighting for Working Families
Senator Warren has laid out plans for getting relief directly to workers, families and small businesses, and has fought to prioritize federal aid for keeping workers on payroll and helping hospitals, states and localities respond to the crisis -- before bailing out giant corporations. She has called for universal paid leave, increasing Social Security benefits by $200 a month, broad cancellation of student loan debt, and protecting and expanding housing. Specifically, she has:
Unveiled a plan, along with Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-Wash.), and Senate Banking Committee Ranking Member Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), to cancel student loan payments for the duration of the COVID-19 emergency and provide a minimum $10,000 payoff for all federal student loan borrowers.
The Senate needs to pass a stimulus that doesn’t just go to no-strings-attached bailouts for giant corporations. That's why @SenateDems are fighting for real funding this for public health crisis response & serious relief directly for workers, small businesses, & families. pic.twitter.com/hlLI0ExvAL— Elizabeth Warren (@SenWarren) March 23, 2020
Along with Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), unveiled a plan to increase by $200 the monthly benefit for all Social Security, Veterans, and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) beneficiaries through the end of 2021.
Along with Representative Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), unveiled a proposal for an Essential Workers Bill of Rights to protect frontline workers during the coronavirus pandemic.
Frontline workers – health care, transit, farm, grocery, domestic & delivery workers – are risking their lives to keep America running. We can’t rely on big business to protect them. So @RepRoKhanna & I are proposing an Essential Workers Bill of Rights to #ProtectEssentialWorkers pic.twitter.com/XlO1TKguVI— Elizabeth Warren (@SenWarren) April 13, 2020
Unveiled a plan for a $50 billion child care bailout to stabilize the child care system, keep providers in business, and ensure parents are able to go back to work when it is safe to return.
Here’s the stark truth: we won’t be able to send people back to work & rebuild our economy when the time comes if our child care system collapses during this pandemic. That’s why @SenTinaSmith & I have a plan for a $50 billion child care bailout. https://t.co/QYL80ya1L9— Elizabeth Warren (@SenWarren) April 15, 2020
Joined Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh on a conference call with Boston small business owners to share details of the coming relief for small businesses in the latest legislative package.
Led her colleagues in urging Senate leadership to support child care as part of the third coronavirus stimulus package.
Published an op-ed in which she outlined what Congress must do to confront the coronavirus crisis in the fourth stimulus package.
Congress has passed three coronavirus packages – but with more than 12,000 dead and 10 million out of work, the scale of this tragedy demands we do much more, much faster to save lives and our economy. Here is what Congress must do in the next package: https://t.co/UOQOIkdmUX— Elizabeth Warren (@SenWarren) April 8, 2020
Co-authored an op-ed in which she called for billions in federal funding for local childcare providers to help workers and families weather the economic devastation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Unveiled legislation that would prohibit price gouging of consumer goods throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and future emergencies.
We can’t let struggling families get squeezed even further by companies out to make a quick buck. I’m introducing @RepJoeNeguse’s bill in the Senate to set tougher rules against price gouging. It needs to be included in Congress’s next relief package. https://t.co/OZINjRqqra— Elizabeth Warren (@SenWarren) April 10, 2020
Called on the CEOs of DoorDash, Grubhub, Uber Eats, and Instacart to correctly classify their delivery workers as employees, rather than independent contractors, and provide appropriate pay, benefits, and protections during the pandemic.
Along with Senators Wyden, Schumer, and 31 Democratic Senators, pressed the Department of Labor to ensure workers Congress intended to be covered by the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program receive the benefits they are owed.
Along with Senator Markey, called on the Trump administration to ensure taxpayers quickly receive stimulus checks regardless of banking status.
Along with Senator Sherrod Brown, called on banks and credit unions to cease the seizure of CARES Act stimulus payments from hardworking American families.
Led the Massachusetts congressional delegation in urging Congressional leadership to prioritize substantial emergency financial support for students and institutions of higher education in the upcoming COVID-19 stimulus package.
Led her colleagues in pushing the Department of Education to target CARES Act funding to public and non-profit colleges, instead of for-profit colleges.
Joined her colleagues in urging Senate leadership to support fishermen and seafood processors as the fishing industry endures severe economic hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Joined Senators Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) urging airlines to provide customers with cash refunds, not just travel vouchers, for canceled flights.
Asked the Federal Communications Commission to take emergency action to address broadband internet accessibility for students, workers, and patients, and ensure equal access to the internet during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Led the Massachusetts congressional delegation urging the U.S. Census Bureau, in the wake of campus closures, to allow colleges and universities to report on all their students using administrative data.
Led the Massachusetts congressional delegation seeking a U.S. Department of Agriculture waiver to fully reimburse school districts and after-school programs providing free meals to children during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Wrote with Senators Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Representatives Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) and Katie Porter (D-Calif.),to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) asking for a moratorium on evicting renters during the coronavirus pandemic.
Housing is a basic need for families, especially during this public health crisis. @SenJeffMerkley, @SenSanders, @RepPressley, @RepKatiePorter & I called for @HUDgov to suspend evictions for renters – I'm glad HUD is now taking this necessary step. https://t.co/3IM8jzjOcr— Elizabeth Warren (@SenWarren) March 18, 2020
Joined HELP Committee Ranking Member Parry Murray (D-Wash.) and colleagues in requesting Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos provide details about the Department's coronavirus preparedness and response efforts and how the Department plans to protect students, teachers, and other school staff in the event of an outbreak.
Joined HELP Committee Ranking Member Murray and colleagues to request Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia provide details about the Department's coronavirus preparedness and response efforts and how the Department plans to protect the safety, health, and economic security of workers and their families during the increasing threat from the coronavirus.
Urged Congressional leadership to include robust funding in the COVID-19 stimulus package for the Community Development Block Grant Program to help mayors and local governments in Massachusetts and nationwide to provide critical services during the pandemic.
Safeguarding our Economy and Financial Stability
Senator Warren has called for a grassroots economic stimulus package that would avoid the mistakes of the 2008 bailout and provide direct help to families harmed by the coronavirus outbreak. She has laid out a detailed list of conditions that should come with any bailout funds to corporate America, and will continue to conduct strong oversight of these funds to ensure they are used (1) to protect workers and not to reward corporate misbehavior; and (2) are protected by strong anti-corruption and transparency rules. Since the beginning of the outbreak, she has:
Called for a grassroots economic stimulus package that would focus on recovery from the grassroots up, not Wall Street down.
During the 2008 financial crisis, our government responded with a giant bankers' bailout & too little for working families. Read my new op-ed on the lessons from 2008 & why we must deliver a grassroots stimulus package directly to working families. https://t.co/VQ4BpCBOTF— Elizabeth Warren (@SenWarren) March 16, 2020
Any taxpayer money that goes to bail out big companies must go directly to workers, not to stock buybacks or executive bonuses. Read my new op-ed on my 8 rules for those companies so we put workers & taxpayers first. https://t.co/APPCdZMZ3Z— Elizabeth Warren (@SenWarren) March 20, 2020
Called for strict guardrails to be included in any stimulus package that uses taxpayer dollars to bail out large corporations, in order to ensure the stimulus reaches workers and their families first.
Wrote to Fed Chairman Jay Powell and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin expressing concern with the inadequate oversight provisions of a new $600 billion loan program to bail out thousands of mid-sized businesses and a new $850 billion program to bail out large corporations.
Led her colleagues in urging the Federal Reserve to reconsider the arbitrary population requirements that lock most cities and counties out of CARES Act budget help.
Wrote to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin calling on him to use his new authority under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to fully meet the needs of state and local governments before using any taxpayer dollars to bail out large companies.
The law is clear: the $454B fund Congress approved last week can be used to help struggling state & local governments – not just big corporations. Secretary Mnuchin should meet every one of their needs before a single unnecessary cent goes to enrich CEOs. https://t.co/whZ33uGHNQ— Elizabeth Warren (@SenWarren) March 30, 2020
Wrote to Treasury Secretary Mnuchin and Federal Reserve Chairman Jay Powell urging them to protect workers and root out corruption when administering the $500 billion bailout for corporate America under the CARES Act.
Written to the nation's largest banks asking them how they are preparing for the economic risks of COVID-19 and also urged them to work to mitigate the impact on consumers.
Written to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, chair of the Financial Stability Oversight Council, raising concerns about the leveraged lending market and the risks these loans pose to the financial system amid the COVID-19 outbreak.
Led her colleagues in writing to Deutsche Bank about the Trump Organization's reported request for financial assistance amid the current crisis.
Along with Senators Blumenthal and Carper, asked the top White House ethics official to ensure the Trump administration's COVID-19 decisions are serving the American public, not President Trump's and Jared Kushner's financial interests.
Protecting the Most Vulnerable Americans
Senator Warren has been fighting tirelessly to ensure that the federal government's response to the COVID-19 pandemic includes protections for the most vulnerable Americans, including individuals and families experiencing homelessness, detainees and staff at federal prisons, Black, Brown, Native, and LGBTQ+ Americans, immigrants, and other marginalized communities. She has:
Unveiled legislation to provide critical funding to states and local governments responding to the needs of families and individuals experiencing homelessness during the COVID-19 crisis.
Laid out a plan for how to ensure our elections can proceed safely and securely during the coronavirus pandemic.
What's happening in Wisconsin is a travesty. Elections are the backbone of our democracy – and Americans must be able to participate without risking their lives. Congress must act immediately to ensure all our elections can proceed safely & securely: https://t.co/Vzb42rXbZg— Elizabeth Warren (@SenWarren) April 7, 2020
Written to the Federal Bureau of Prisons and private prison contractors demanding answers about the policies and procedures they have in place to prepare for and manage a potential spread of COVID-19 in federal prisons and jails.
Introduced bicameral legislation to require the federal government to collect and report coronavirus demographic data--including race and ethnicity.
Communities of color are on the frontlines of this crisis. We need national demographic data on who is getting tested, treated, and dying to ensure our response is robust and equitable. @RepPressley and I have a new bill to require it. #ReleaseTheData https://t.co/230kFvILIU— Elizabeth Warren (@SenWarren) April 14, 2020
Along with Representative Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), called on President Trump to adopt and release decarceral guidelines to reduce the population of people in federal custody in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Along with Representative Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), led her colleagues in urging the Department of Health and Human Services to collect racial and ethnic demographic data on testing and treatment for COVID-19 in order to identify and address racial disparities.
Coronavirus doesn’t discriminate, but racial disparities in our health care system may mean Black and Brown families aren't being tested or treated equally for COVID-19. @RepPressley and I want @HHSGov to find out.https://t.co/bS5qV16n6B— Elizabeth Warren (@SenWarren) March 30, 2020
Along with Senator Markey and Congresswoman Pressley, called on the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to immediately release racial and ethnic data of Medicare beneficiaries who are tested or hospitalized for COVID-19.
Along with Senators Smith and Murray, led 43 of their Senate colleagues in calling on Vice President Pence, the Coronavirus Task Force, and FEMA to conduct a national inventory of the COVID-19 testing supply, publicly release data on testing results, and provide a detailed plan and timeline for addressing future shortages and gaps in the testing supply chain.
Led her colleagues in calling for federal agencies to address coronavirus-related racist and xenophobic attacks against Asian Americans.
Led her colleagues in the Massachusetts congressional delegation in urging the Department of Veterans Affairs to recommend medical marijuana to veteran patients during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Urged the Food and Drug Administration and Federal Trade Commission to step up their enforcement of federal law to stop companies marketing fraudulent coronavirus “cures” and other scams.
Along with Senators Murray and Baldwin, urged the FDA to ensure Americans can access essential, time sensitive health care -- including medication abortion care -- during the pandemic.
Called on the Trump Administration to protect public health and (1) halt immigration enforcement at hospitals and medical facilities and (2) suspend the “public charge” rule so that immigrants suffering from coronavirus are not afraid to seek treatment.
Introduced a bill that would allow Native communities to directly access vital supplies from the strategic national stockpile.
Wrote to the FDA urging the agency to address reports of shortages of hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine, antimalarial drugs that President Trump has repeatedly and prematurely promoted as treatments for COVID-19.
Along with Senator Patty Murry (D-Wash.), urged the National Institutes of Health and FDA to consider the needs of pregnant people and other underrepresented populations as they work with pharmaceutical companies to develop a pipeline for COVID-19 vaccines and therapeutics.
Along with Representatives Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.), Nydia M. Velázquez (D-N.Y.) and Joaquin Castro (D-Texas), wrote to Vice President Pence requesting information on how the Trump administration will help Puerto Rico manage the crisis given the island's unique vulnerability to COVID-19.