WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, as Black History Month begins, government watchdog Accountable.US called on President Biden and his administration to prioritize aid for Black families and communities as they work to address the systemic racism prevalent in American society — a struggle exacerbated by the ongoing economic and public health devastation of COVID-19. While Biden’s executive orders last week were a step in the right direction, there’s still much work to be done by the president and Congress to ensure that families are getting the help they need.
“With COVID cases mounting and job losses soaring, Black Americans are facing severe and disproportionate hardships as they work to keep their businesses afloat and keep food on the table for their families,” said Accountable.US President Kyle Herrig. “Meanwhile, all Republican obstructionists in the Senate are worried about is blocking President Biden from having a functioning Cabinet that will prioritize keeping Americans safe, and from passing a significant relief bill to get families the help they need. The difficulties facing Black communities in the U.S. did not start with Donald Trump, but President Biden and his team must put cleaning up the mess he left in his wake — constant racist and bigoted rhetoric and an inequitable pandemic response strategy that put Black lives last — at their top of their agenda.”
Black Americans have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, contracting and dying from the virus at staggering rates. But rather than put their health and safety first, Senate Republicans have spent weeks delaying the confirmation of Xavier Becerra to lead the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) — and by extension, the handful of crucial heads of the CDC, FDA, and other health department sub-agencies essential to curbing the spread of the pandemic — putting public health at severe risk.
Black Americans have also been systematically disadvantaged in and denied access to pandemic aid, with Black business owners, workers, and families struggling to hang on. As many as 41% of Black-owned enterprises expected to close their doors before the pandemic ends, and Black families nationwide are facing the constant threat of evictions and job loss. But Senate obstructionists are standing in the way of desperately needed assistance, blocking the president’s America Rescue Plan in favor of piecemeal relief legislation that doesn’t even begin to address the hardships workers and families are dealing with as the nation comes up on one year of a pandemic-ravaged economy.