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Joint Economic Committee Democrats Chairman - Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA)

In Response to “Drastic” Drop in Retail Sales, Vice Chair Beyer Again Calls for Automatic Triggers

"...it is easier to find toilet paper than it is to file for unemployment."

Washington, D.C.—Today, after the U.S. Census Bureau reported an 8.7 percent drop in retail sales during the month of March, Congressman Don Beyer (D-VA), the Vice Chair of the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee, again called for automatic triggers in the next legislative response to the coronavirus. The drop was more than two times worse than the previous record drop of 3.9 percent in November 2008.

Automatic triggers are a mechanism by which Congress can continue to provide automatic assistance to businesses, workers or other entities as long as the economy remains weak. These triggers would be linked to an economic indicator like the unemployment rate and turn off when the economy becomes strong.

“As a former business owner, this drastic drop—more than two times worse than the worst on record—puts a pit in my stomach. And the retail reality may be even worse than this number reveals because Americans were stockpiling groceries and other goods during the first few weeks of March.

“When I think about the next legislative response to the coronavirus, two words come to mind—automatic triggers, specifically those tied to economic conditions. Since it is impossible to know how long this drop will last, it is critical that Congress automatizes assistance for retailers and their workers until America is back open for business.

“Retailers and their workers should not have to wait and wonder if Congress will summon the political will to give them the assistance we know they need now.”

Congressman Beyer first called for automatic triggers last week after the Department of Labor reported first-time unemployment claims exceeded 6.6 million for the second week in a row.

About Congressman Beyer

Congressman Beyer is currently serving his third term in the U.S. House of Representatives, representing Northern Virginia suburbs of the nation’s capital. In addition to his role as Vice Chair of the JEC, Beyer serves on the House Committee on Ways and Means and the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology. Previously, Beyer served at Lieutenant Governor of Virginia, Ambassador to Switzerland and built a successful family business over the course of four decades.