October 21, 2020

Brown Takes To The Senate Floor To Call On His Colleagues To Pass Rental Assistance To Provide Relief For Millions Of Renters

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) – Ranking Member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs today continued his push for emergency rental assistance to help the millions of people struggling to pay their rent and at risk of losing their homes. Today’s live unanimous consent requested by Ranking Member Brown includes critical provision that would help the millions of people struggling to pay their rent and at risk of losing their homes.

Senator Brown has long fought to ensure families and individuals can stay in their homes amid the COVID-19 pandemic. In May, he joined Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), and Congressman Denny Heck (D-WA) in introducing the Emergency Rental Assistance and Rental Market Stabilization Act of 2020, legislation that would authorize $100 billion for an emergency rental assistance program to help renters stay housed during and after the pandemic. He is also a cosponsor of Senator Warren’s (D-MA) Protecting Renters from Eviction And Fees Act which would extend federal eviction moratoriums to March 27, 2021, one year after the date of enactment of the CARES Act, and expands the moratorium to cover substantially all renters. Senator Brown also joined Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) in introducing the Coronavirus Housing Counseling Improvement Act to provide $700 million in funding for housing counselors to help homeowners and renters navigate their housing options and Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) in proposing a $75 billion Housing Assistance Fund to help homeowners stay in their homes. Brown will continue his fight to ensure more protections for renters and homeowners in future relief packages.

Brown’s remarks on the Senate Floor, as prepared for delivery, are below:

 Mr./Madame President,

Thank you to my colleagues for joining me on the floor today to be a voice for millions of people who are frustrated and angry, because President Trump and Mitch McConnell continue to fail to get this pandemic under control.

The stock market is back up, so Trump and McConnell seem to think everything is fine.

They’re oblivious to the families who are staring at stacks of bills, and don’t know what to do and have no good options.

They’re oblivious to the parents under an overwhelming amount of stress, who are trying to do their jobs and juggle remote learning, or worry about whether their school is safe.

They’re oblivious to the layoffs that keep coming.

It doesn’t have to be this bad.

We are the greatest, wealthiest country on earth – what good is that, if we can’t rise to meet a moment like this one?

Trump and McConnell want you to believe we can’t solve big problems – that we can’t use our resources to help ordinary families, we can’t use our talent to produce tests and PPE, we can’t use our ingenuity to figure out how to open businesses and schools safely.

More than half a million Ohioans are out of work, and more than 220,000 Americans are dead. And they’ve essentially thrown up their hands and said, “not our problem.”

They want you to believe this is the best America can do.

I don’t believe that for a second.

We can do big things, and actually solve problems for the people we serve.

We did in the spring – we put $600 a week in the pockets of people who lost their jobs and we kept millions of people from falling into poverty and losing their homes. We put in place an eviction moratorium. We gave people stimulus checks to spend in the economy.

But then McConnell and Trump let it all expire. Families are forced to choose between rent and utility bills, or food and prescriptions.

Or they’re going to turn to payday lenders and get trapped in a cycle of debt.

Or they’re going to lose their homes.

One in six renters are behind on rent right now. That’s 11 million people.

And let’s be clear – extending the additional UI money alone would not be enough.

That doesn’t help you if you still have a job but had your hours cut back. It doesn’t help recent college and high school, graduates. It doesn’t help if you’re self-employed or working odd-jobs, and can’t get all the paperwork processed.

And the CDC’s eviction moratorium is also not enough on its own.

Without dollars to back it up, that’s only going to lead to a wave of evictions come New Years.

We need to get help directly to people to pay their bills.

A wave of evictions in the middle of this pandemic will set back millions of families, make it harder to keep people healthy, and exacerbate inequality in this country. 

Even now, with the Trump Administration’s flawed eviction moratorium, evictions are already happening.   We see stories from across the country every day. 

And more evictions will be coming in January if we do nothing.

The work we do in this body to get help to people can’t make up for the lack of leadership from the White House – but it can mitigate some of the damage.

The House did its job, they passed the HEROES Act over five months ago. McConnell and Trump ignored it and the families it would have helped.

This month, the House again passed a bill to help families make ends meet – it provides the help for renters that I have come to the floor to offer today. 

The bill contains $50 billion in emergency rental assistance and extends the CARES Act eviction moratorium to virtually all renters through March. 

This will protect families’ and public health while giving renters - and property owners - the help they need to pay their bills. 

But Senate Republicans refuse to consider it, or the bill I offered here today.

The Multimillionaire Majority Leader and his caucus have the audacity to tell people who have lost their jobs, and essential workers making $10 or $12 an hour, that it’s too expensive to give them help paying the bills in the middle of a national crisis.

People are tired – exhausted - Mr./Ms. President. They’re tired of feeling like no one is on their side.

The American people should not have to fend for themselves in the middle of a once-in-a-generation crisis.

That’s essentially what the Trump-McConnell plan tells people: you’re on your own.

It’s time to actually get to work for the people we serve – to actually solve problems for the country.

That means helping families pay the bills and stay in their homes, it means bringing back the $600 UI, it means getting support to our schools and our communities and our small businesses, it means putting money in people’s pockets.

And it means a real plan to control this virus, so people can get their jobs and their paychecks and their lives back.

Don’t let anyone tell you we can’t do it. We can rise to meet this moment – we just need real leadership.