Since the coronavirus pandemic reached America’s shores, Congress has passed four major pieces of legislation to address the growing crisis. The $8 billion Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act funded public health agencies at the federal, state, and local level and set money aside to lower the cost of any eventual vaccine. The Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which cost just under $200 billion, offered medical leave to many of those affected by the outbreak and expanded public support programs such as Medicaid. Finally, the $2.3 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and a nearly $500 billion supplemental follow-up bill extended loans and grants to businesses, sent stimulus checks to most Americans, expanded unemployment insurance, and offered funding to hospital systems and state and local governments. Together, these laws have provided a powerful response to the crisis — but more still needs done, and leaders from both parties are beginning to consider what to include in the next piece of legislation.
Congress was right to bolster spending on the health-care system, as fighting the virus itself must be our top priority. Increasing production and distribution of personal protective equipment, ventilators, and other lifesaving equipment will help reduce the disease’s spread and death toll. Leaders must also continue to ensure that there are enough affordable tests to effectively track the disease before they gradually reopen the economy. And most importantly, policymakers should clear regulatory and funding barriers that inhibit the development of effective treatments and an eventual vaccine needed to end the pandemic once and for all.
But Washington must also do more to help businesses, people, and governments that are suffering financially. In the short-term, this means providing more “life support” to an economy that has been put into a temporary coma in order to facilitate public health measures. Policymakers must then put in place policies that will help revive the economy when it is safe to do so. This piece outlines a series of steps U.S. policymakers should take to facilitate both phases of this recovery and ensure future prosperity after the coronavirus.
Read the full piece here.