Washington, D.C.—Today, Congressman Joaquin Castro (D-TX)—Chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC)—and Congressman Don Beyer (D-VA)—Vice Chair of the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee (JEC)—released a new report, “Immigrants, the Economy and the COVID-19 Outbreak,” which explores both the contributions of immigrants to the U.S. economy during the coronavirus crisis and the economic and other impacts it has had on them. The report is being released on the same day as a House Resolution sponsored by Congressman Castro that commemorates Immigrant Heritage Month.

Seventeen percent of U.S. workers are immigrants. Foreign-born workers are overrepresented in both front-line medical occupations (e.g., home health aides, nurses, physicians) and occupations that have been designated “essential” (e.g., meatpacking, crop production, construction), as well as occupations that have experienced the steepest rise in unemployment in recent months (e.g., food service, hospitality).

Consequently, immigrants both have an elevated risk of exposure to the coronavirus and are more likely to lose their job or business as a result of the related recession. At the same time, they are less likely to be eligible for coronavirus relief measures like direct cash payments, Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation and the Paycheck Protection Program.

The HEROES Act, which was passed by the House last month and awaits action by the Senate, addresses some of the needs highlighted in the report, e.g., providing coronavirus testing and treatment regardless of immigration status, hazard pay for essential workers, and protections for farmworkers and meatpacking workers. A list of other key immigration provisions included in the HEROES Act is here.

“Immigrants—the ‘essential’ workers, entrepreneurs and millions of others—help power our economy. We need to recognize the important role they play, especially during the current crisis, and provide them with the help they need," Congressman Beyer said.  “Any coronavirus relief measure that hurts immigrants’ ability to recover from the health and economic impacts of this pandemic is one that hurts our nation’s ability to recover. This is one of the many reasons why it is so important for the Senate to pass the HEROES Act, which extends health care, hazard pay and housing protections to immigrants and their families, among other key policies.”

“In every sector of our economy and every aspect of our society, immigrants enrich American life,” Congressman Castro said. “The coronavirus pandemic has exposed to everyone what Congressional Hispanic Caucus Members have been saying for years: immigrants are essential workers and critical to our nation’s infrastructure. Immigrants fulfill critical roles and we must value their contributions by reforming our broken immigration system, protecting families from deportation, and supporting all workers during this crisis.”

Congressman Castro continued, “The sacrifices of immigrants—working the front lines of COVID-19 and risking their lives for everyone’s wellbeing—must never be forgotten. This illuminating report by the Joint Economic Committee under the leadership of Vice Chair Don Beyer shows how immigrants are key drivers of economic growth by starting businesses and developing innovations, and without immigrant labor several major industries would not function. Immigrants are making the United States a healthier, safer, more prosperous nation and are vital to America’s future success.”

In the food supply chain industry, immigrants make up 20-70 percent of the labor force depending on the type of work (e.g., graders, sorters) and the location of the work (e.g., California, Texas). (Overall, they make up 22 percent of all workers in the industry.) About one-in-four new businesses in the U.S. are started by immigrants and these businesses employ 8 million workers. In addition, the spending power of immigrants is strong—$1.2 trillion annually according to the bipartisan research and advocacy organization New American Economy.

About the CHC

The 38-Member Congressional Hispanic Caucus is dedicated to voicing and advancing, through the legislative process, issues affecting Hispanics in the United States, Puerto Rico and U.S. Territories. Congressman Joaquin Castro (D-TX) is the Chair.

About the JEC

The U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee is Congress’s bicameral economic think tank. It was created when Congress passed the Employment Act of 1946. Under this Act, Congress established two advisory panels: the President's Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) and the JEC. Their primary tasks are to review economic conditions and to recommend improvements in economic policy.

Chairmanship of the JEC alternates between the Senate and House every Congress. Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) is the Chair. Congressman Don Beyer (D-VA) is Vice Chair.

Washington, D.C.—Today, Congressman Don Beyer (D-VA), Vice Chair of the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee (JEC), released a report, “The Administration’s 'Return-to-Work Bonus' Is No Substitute for Enhanced Unemployment Benefits,” showing that millions of unemployed workers would be left without the economic support they need if the Trump administration succeeds in replacing the $600 weekly Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) with a “return-to-work bonus.”

“Replacing enhanced unemployment benefits with a ‘return-to-work bonus’ is a terrible idea,” said Congressman Beyer. “There simply aren’t enough jobs—dangling an incentive won’t create or fill more of them. And cutting off supplemental unemployment benefits could force millions into poverty.”

“In many states, where COVID-19 is surging, encouraging workers to return to unsafe jobs is dangerous and short-sighted. We need to provide continued economic support so that these workers can stay home and stay healthy,” Congressman Beyer continued. “Eliminating enhanced unemployment benefits is cold-hearted and counter-productive. By cutting off workers and removing money from the economy, it would reduce demand at exactly the moment we should be taking steps to boost demand and bolster our economy.”

More than half of states reported an increase in new COVID-19 cases in the past week with new cases in the United States reaching an all-time high on Friday. Hospitalizations also have increased reaching new highs in seven states. In Arizona, for example, COVID-19 hospitalizations have risen from just over 800 on Memorial Day to over 2,600 currently.

Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation was created to supplement modest regular unemployment benefits. Regular benefits replaced less than 40 percent of workers’ wages on average in 2019. In 13 states, these benefits are especially meager and replace less than one-third of workers’ wages. In Florida, the maximum benefit is just $275 per week—the equivalent of about $15,000 per year and below the poverty line for a family of two.

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 as the Lieutenant Governor of Virginia, Ambassador to Switzerland and built a successful family business over the course of four decades.

Washington, D.C.—Congressman Don Beyer (D-VA), Vice Chair of the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee (JEC), today released the following statement after the Department of Labor (DOL) reported that 1.5 million workers filed regular first-time unemployment claims (not seasonally adjusted) for the week ending June 20 and another 728,000 filed claims through Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program for gig workers and others. In total, 2.2 million people filed new unemployment claims.

This is the 14th consecutive week in which more than one million Americans filed a new unemployment insurance claim. The DOL also reported that 30.6 million American workers continued to draw unemployment insurance benefits as of June 6th.

“This is the fourteenth week in a row that the number of people filing new unemployment claims has exceeded the worst week of the Great Recession,” said Beyer. “The President is responding to that crisis with self-congratulation and a total lack of empathy for the millions who remain out of work. Senate Republicans, led by Mitch McConnell, are not doing a single thing to help the economy as the national emergency gets worse.”

“As Fed Chair Jay Powell has said, the economy won’t fully recover until Americans have confidence that the coronavirus is contained. But we’re moving in the opposite direction. New cases reached an all-time high yesterday. At least seven states hit records for COVID-19 hospitalizations this week. The President is not simply failing to lead, but he is actively making matters worse by holding potentially super-spreading events in Tulsa and Phoenix. The price of his callousness and ineptitude will be extremely high.”


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 as the Lieutenant Governor of Virginia and Ambassador to Switzerland and built a successful family business over the course of four decades.

Washington, D.C.—Ahead of the Juneteenth holiday marking the end of slavery in the United States, JEC Vice Chair Don Beyer (D-VA)—joined by Congresswoman Karen Bass (D-CA), the Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), and Congresswoman Joyce Beatty (D-OH), the First Vice Chair of the CBC and a JEC member—today re-released two recent committee reports that shed light on the racial disparities at the root of both the coronavirus and police misconduct. The reports—The Economic State of Black America in 2020—and—The Impact of Coronavirus on the Working Poor and People of Color, released in February and April respectively, include updated data on both issues.

“As a Black man in America, George Floyd—murdered by a white police officer in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on May 25—was more likely to die from the coronavirus, and more likely to die at the hands of law enforcement. But Floyd survived the coronavirus, a recent autopsy revealed, only to be killed by a police officer who kneeled on his neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds until he suffocated,” said Congressman Beyer (D-VA).

Congressman Beyer (D-VA) continued, “The end of Floyd’s life illustrates a fact that many experts have pointed out: the community that is bearing the brunt of the coronavirus is the same community that is bearing the brunt of police misconduct—Black Americans. Ahead of Juneteenth, it is important that we remember and reflect on all the ways that Black Americans have fought and still fight for freedom in a country that is supposed to be the ‘land of the free’—especially now as people take to the streets in the name of Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Rayshard Brooks and other Black Americans whose lives should have mattered to those they paid to protect and serve them.”

“For Black America, these last few months have been nothing short of a pandemic upon a pandemic," said Congresswoman Bass (D-CA), Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus. "However, as we respond to the immediate issues we cannot ignore systemic racism which has simply been exacerbated due to COVID-19. In May, the House passed the HEROES Act, which would provide a substantial boost to the economy during the second half of this year, when the economy is most vulnerable to the pandemic and at most risk of sliding back into recession. If we are really concerned about alleviating the impact of COVID-19 on the African American community, then the HEROES Act needs to urgently be made a law. Black America cannot continue to bear this brunt."

“This year’s Juneteenth celebration comes as our nation and the world confront the COVID-19 pandemic that has exposed deep inequities not just here at home but abroad," said Congresswoman Beatty (D-OH), First Vice Chair of the CBC and a member of the JEC. "The pandemic has disproportionately impacted the Black community and has laid bare disparities in healthcare, employment, housing, policing and our justice system. In fact, the unemployment rate for Black Americans is twice that for Whites, Black homeownership rates are approaching a 50-year low and the median wealth of Black families is one-tenth that of White families."

Congresswoman Beatty (D-OH) continued, "In this moment of crisis, it will take all Americans to work together to overcome the pandemic and to address the long-term systemic discrimination faced by the Black community which the pandemic has exacerbated. These reports issued by the JEC Democrats, under the leadership of Vice Chair Don Beyer, enumerate the many challenges Black Americans face due to structural and entrenched racism and show that the time is now to have a truth and reconciliation process to end racial disparities, unequal treatment and societal injustices that are the long-standing vestiges of slavery in America.”

Juneteenth—also known as Freedom Day, Jubilee Day, Emancipation Day, and Cel-Liberation Day—is an American holiday celebrated annually on June 19. It commemorates June 19, 1865, when Union soldiers—led by General Gordon Granger—arrived in Galveston, TX, with the news that the Civil War had ended and that all previously enslaved people were free.

Last week, President Trump announced that he would resume holding campaign rallies, the first of which would be held on June 19, in Tulsa, OK, the site of one of the worst incidents of white supremacist violence against Black Americans in U.S. history—the 1921 Tulsa race massacre. After receiving backlash, he changed the date to the following day, June 20.

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 as the Lieutenant Governor of Virginia and Ambassador to Switzerland and built a successful family business over the course of four decades.

Vice Chair Beyer’s Calls with Nation’s Leading Economists Inspire Coronavirus Policy Proposals

Since March, Beyer and other Democratic members of Congress's economic think tank have talked with 18 economists and other policy experts, including two Nobel-Prize winners.

Jun 11 2020

Washington, D.C.—For about an hour several times a week, Congressman Don Beyer (D-VA), Vice Chair of the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee (JEC), talks with some of the nation’s most prominent economists and other policy experts about the economic impact of the coronavirus. The conversations, often joined by JEC Members and Members from other congressional committees, have led to policy proposals to help the nation respond and recover from the virus-related recession.

After a conversation with Nobel-prize winning economist Paul Romer, Vice Chair Beyer introduced legislation inspired by Romer’s idea to use university labs for coronavirus testing. As Romer explained on the call, widespread testing is key to reopening the economy, especially because a vaccine is far off.

After conversations with a number of top economists who expressed support for using automatic stabilizers to help the economy recover, Vice Chair Beyer—working with Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Jack Reed (D-RI)—released a legislative proposal ensuring that the tens of millions of Americans who have filed for unemployment get benefits for as long as the unemployment rate remains high.

The legislative proposal received the support of former Federal Reserve Chairs Janet Yellen and Ben Bernanke, Nobel prize-winner Joseph Stiglitz, former Chairs of the Council of Economic Advisers Jason Furman and Austan Goolsbee, former Treasury Secretary Jack Lew and other prominent economists, almost all of whom Vice Chair Beyer has spoken to in recent weeks.

Economists Heather Boushey of the Washington Center for Equitable Growth and Jay Shambaugh of the Hamilton Project at the Brookings Institution—two of the main advocates of proposals for the use of automatic stabilizers—also strongly supported Congressman Beyer’s proposal and talked with him at length about it.

Over the past three months, in calls with 18 economists and other policy experts, the most frequently heard message was that the top priority for the economy is to contain the coronavirus and that re-opening it too soon may prolong the recession.

Today, Vice Chair Beyer publicly thanked all of them and pledged to continue the calls throughout his tenure.

“It has been a privilege to talk to some of the nation’s top economists about the best ways to address the economic impact of the coronavirus,” Vice Chair Beyer said. “Good advice can turn into good policy. I listen carefully and I learn a lot. And when we can, we take action.”

Vice Chair Beyer added, “Although the President would have Americans believe otherwise, it is important to listen to the experts. His method is just to wing it—and we pay a very high price.”

When he was recommended as vice chair of the JEC by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Democratic leadership asked Vice Chair Beyer to use the position to dig more deeply into economic inequality. Since then, the coronavirus has brought the nation’s race, class and gender fault lines to the forefront. To gain greater insight into these issues, a number of calls have focused on how inequality in the U.S. plays a substantial role in determining who is most likely to suffer worse health and economic impacts from the coronavirus.

One of these calls was with economist Darrick Hamilton, Executive Director of The Ohio State University’s Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity, who has spent his career studying economic inequality. After a conversation with Hamilton, Congressman Beyer publicly reiterated Hamilton’s warning about the dangers of race neutral federal programs that don’t have race neutral impacts, citing issues with the Paycheck Protection Program that were reported about in The New York Times, and released a report on race, class and the coronavirus that was written by a JEC Democratic staffer who studied under Hamilton.

“As a result of a corrosive cocktail of systemic inequalities, tens of thousands of people across the country are more likely to experience the health and economic effects of the coronavirus because of who they are, what they do, and where they live,” Vice Chair Beyer said. “As Dr. Hamilton powerfully and poignantly explained during our conversation with him, there are number of policies Congress can pass to address these health and economic disparities—health and economic disparities that have plagued our country long before the first American died of the coronavirus.”

During the call with Stiglitz, the economist emphasized that those who are concerned that Congress is spending too much money to address the health and economic effects of the coronavirus need to think about it as wartime spending. “When we entered WWII we didn’t ask ‘can we afford it?’” he said, reading from remarks he prepared for the call. “We have entered another war—this time with a deadly virus.”

During the call with Boushey, who used to work for the Democratic members of the JEC, the economist called on members of Congress to pass former JEC Chair Carolyn B. Maloney’s (D-NY) Measuring Real Income Growth Act of 2019, legislation that would require the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) to give policymakers a clearer picture of economic inequality by publishing data on how economic growth is distributed among Americans of all income levels. A few days later, the legislation was included in Congress’s fifth coronavirus relief package—the HEROES Act.

A full list of the economists and other policy experts that JEC Democrats have talked with are below. Soon they plan to talk with economist Lisa Cook, a professor at Michigan State University who served on the Council of Economic Advisers during the Obama Administration. If there is an economist or other policy expert who should be on JEC Democrats’ shortlist, please send suggestions to Kamara_Jones@jec.senate.gov.

  • Olugbenga Ajilore (Economist)
    • Senior Economist, Center for American Progress
  • David Autor (Economist)
    • Professor, Massachusetts Institute of Technology  
  • Heather Boushey (Economist)
    • President, CEO and Co-Founder, Washington Center for Equitable Growth
  • Ian Bremmer (Political Scientist)
    • President and Founder of the Eurasia Group
  • Austan Goolsbee (Economist)
    • Professor, University of Chicago
  • Darrick Hamilton (Economist)
    • Professor, The Ohio State University
    • Executive Director, The Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity
  • Bradley Hardy (Economist)
    • Associate Professor, American University
  • Glenn Hubbard (Economist)
    • Dean Emeritus, Professor, Columbia Business School
    • Former Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers under President George W. Bush
  • Jack Lew
    • Former Secretary of the Treasury, White House Chief of Staff, and Director of the Office of Management and Budget
  • Nellie Liang (Economist)
    • Senior Fellow in Economic Studies, Brookings Institution
    • Former Founding Director of the Division of Financial Stability at the Federal Reserve Board
  • Greg Mankiw (Economist)
    • Professor, Harvard University
    • Former Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers under President George W. Bush
  • Chris Murray (Physician, Economist)
    • Director, Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, University of Washington
    • Creator of “The Chris Murray Model,” a new COVID-19 forecasting model that predicts the state-by-state impact of the coronavirus pandemic on health systems in the U.S.
  • Raghuram Rajan (Economist)
    • Professor, University of Chicago
    • Former Governor of the Reserve Bank of India
  • Paul Romer (Economist)
    • Co-recipient of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences in 2018
    • Professor, New York University
  • Jon Sallet
    • Senior Fellow, Benton Institute for Broadband and Society
  • Joseph Stiglitz (Economist)
    • Recipient of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences in 2001
    • Professor, Columbia University 
  • Adam Tooze (Historian)
    • Professor, Columbia University
  • Justin Wolfers (Economist)
    • Professor, University of Michigan 

History of the JEC

The JEC is Congress’s bipartisan, bicameral economic think tank. It was created when Congress passed the Employment Act of 1946. Under this Act, Congress established two advisory panels: the President's Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) and the JEC. Their primary tasks are to review economic conditions and to recommend improvements in economic policy.

Chairmanship of the JEC alternates between the Senate and House every Congress. Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) is the chair.

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 (highest ranking Democrat) 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 as the Lieutenant Governor of Virginia and Ambassador to Switzerland and built a successful family business over the course of four decades.

Washington, D.C.—Today, at a U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee (JEC) hearing on charitable giving, Congressman Don Beyer (D-VA), the Vice Chair of the JEC, pushed for policies that would help nonprofits that have been hit hard by the coronavirus crisisa time when Americans need them most.

“I volunteered at a food bank in my district recently—for as long as I was there you could not see the end of the line—and they told me that one of their biggest challenges is that they are no longer getting the extra food from restaurants because restaurants are closed so they are having to turn to their state and local governments for funding,” Congressman Beyer said. “This is one of the many ways that the coronavirus crisis is hurting nonprofits.”

Before the coronavirus crisis, nonprofits had been hit hard by the 2017 Trump tax cuts, which reduced incentives for charitable giving by nearly doubling the standard deduction. This resulted in a substantial decrease in the number of households that itemize—from 26% to 10%—and are therefore eligible to claim the charitable giving deduction. In 2018, the first year Trump’s tax cuts were implemented, charitable giving by individuals declined by 3%.

“The 2017 Trump tax cuts badly hurt nonprofits by significantly reducing incentives for charitable giving. The coronavirus struck a second blow at those organizations, weakening many of them when the communities they serve are in greatest need,” Congressman Beyer said.

Congressman Beyer continued, “Although some in Congress do not feel a sense of urgency, I have been hearing from leaders of nonprofits big and small in my district who say that a sense of urgency is exactly what is needed. Congress must respond by giving them the support they need to survive by passing the HEROES Act, as well as other measures introduced by me and by my JEC Democratic colleague Senator Amy Klobuchar.”

Currently, nonprofits can benefit from the Employee Retention Tax Credit in the CARES Act. The HEROES Act would increase this tax credit from 50 percent to 80 percent of qualifying wages and lift the wage cap.

Congressman Beyer and Congressman Mike Kelly (R-PA) are sponsors of the Legacy IRA Act, bipartisan legislation that would incentivize charitable giving by expanding the IRA Charitable Rollover to allow senior citizens 65 and older to make tax-free IRA rollovers to charities while providing them with guaranteed income.

Senator Klobuchar, one of four Democratic senators on the JEC, is a sponsor of The WORK NOW Act, legislation that would provide grants to nonprofits to help them retain or hire new employees.

Read Congressman Beyer’s written opening statement here.

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 as the Lieutenant Governor of Virginia, Ambassador to Switzerland and built a successful family business over the course of four decades.

Washington, D.C.—Today, Congressman Don Beyer (D-VA), the Vice Chair of the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee (JEC), released the following statement in response to the National Bureau of Economic Research’s determination that the U.S. economy entered a recession in February when the coronavirus crisis began.

“This is not news to the tens of millions of workers who have lost their jobs since February.

"Even after May’s job gains, the economy has recovered only one-tenth of the jobs lost since the recession began. Policymakers have helped limit the damage, with the Paycheck Protection Program, increased unemployment benefits and expanded eligibility, and other vital relief measures. Even so, the unemployment rate remains higher than at any point during the Great Recession.

"Entire sectors of the economy face extraordinary new challenges remaking themselves to serve customers and build products while simultaneously limiting the spread of coronavirus. It is a very tough challenge indeed and the road to recovery will be long and filled with ups and downs— especially if Senate Republicans continue to block relief legislation."

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 as the Lieutenant Governor of Virginia, Ambassador to Switzerland and built a successful family business over the course of four decades.

Washington, D.C.—Today, Congressman Don Beyer (D-VA), the Vice Chair of the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee (JEC), released the following statement after the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that nonfarm payroll employment increased by 2.5 million in May and the unemployment rate fell to 13.3%. The unemployment rate was 16.8% for Black workers, matching the Great Recession high. It was 17.6% for Latino workers.

“Today’s jobs report seems to be a step in the right direction, but it paints a different picture than the millions of recently filed unemployment claims. There are many moving parts that make it difficult to get an accurate read of the labor market. The experts will need some time to sort that out.

“One thing is clear—despite the President’s premature pat on the back, we are not out of the woods yet. Some Americans were able to return to work last month, recovering some of the job losses in April. But more than 20 million Americans remain unemployed, including nearly half a million municipal workers who lost their jobs last month alone.

“That is why it is so critical that we continue Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation and the Paycheck Protection Program, and get state and local governments the support they need. Workers and businesses need to know that we are all in this together and that we will provide them with support for as long as the economy remains weak.

“The road to recovery will be long and while we must hope for the best we must also prepare for the worst. Even as the unemployment rate starts to come down, it will likely remain in double digits for months—for the African-American and Latino communities in particular. Even as states reopen across the country, hundreds of people will continue to die each day in our country from the coronavirus until we have a vaccine.

“And, no matter how much things change for the better, one thing sadly and shamefully will not—the fact that this White House could have saved tens of thousands of lives if it would have acted a week or two sooner.”

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 as the Lieutenant Governor of Virginia, Ambassador to Switzerland and built a successful family business over the course of four decades.

Beyer Speaks Plainly about the Congressional Response to the Coronavirus and Public Outrage over the Killing of George Floyd

Congress “needs to do a lot more” to help the economy. Peaceful protesters are reacting with “all the fury that we should.”

Jun 03 2020

Washington, D.C.—On Monday morning, during a taped, 20-minute interview with Mark Thompson, the host of the popular podcast “Make It Plain,” Congressman Don Beyer (D-VA), the Vice Chair of the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee (JEC), praised the Congressional response to the coronavirus recession, including recent improvements to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) to ensure that small businesses most in need of relief get it.

“I think Congress so far has acted pretty quickly and pretty well to help,” Beyer told Thompson. “We need to do a lot more.”

“We realized in that first big tranche of money we were sending to small businesses that bigger small businesses, the ones with 100, 200 employees, were getting all the money,” Beyer said about PPP. “And [now] we’re trying to get it to the [small businesses] that most need it that may not have the great banking relationship and the expensive lawyer.”

Since the interview was taped just a day after weekend protests across the nation in response to the killing of George Floyd, a black man killed by a white Minneapolis police officer, Congressman Beyer also talked with Thompson about his thoughts on the incident—praising peaceful protesters who are reacting with “all the fury that we should.”

“It was so unnecessary,” Congressman Beyer said about the killing of George Floyd, “and it wasn’t accidental—it was murder.”

The full interview was released today and can be listened to here. Below are additional excerpts from the interview, some of which have been edited for brevity and clarity. 

Congressional Response to Coronavirus

Thompson (Host): You mentioned the economy, Congressman Beyer, and the peril in which it’s in. Massive unemployment and then businesses thinking about reopening, some businesses will never come back. Give us in your words the state of the economy now and the potential state going forward. What can be done? What options can we have? How can there be a rebuilding, even knowing that this thing might come back? I mean, how do you even plan?

Beyer: Well, I think Congress so far has acted pretty quickly and pretty well to help. We have 40 million people unemployed. It wasn’t this long slow recession, we just shut down all these businesses overnight and threw people out of work. But we have the Paycheck Protection Program which has put like $700 billion into small businesses, we’ve extended unemployment insurance for a record number of people, we’ve sent the individual checks to families—$1200 per person.

And the Democratic House—led by Nancy Pelosi, Steny Hoyer, Jim Clyburn—we passed the CARES Act two-and-a-half weeks ago which does a lot more: $6,000 more per family, keeps unemployment insurance into 2021, does a lot of really good things. They’ve got to get through Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump’s got to sign it and that’s not sure.

But, Mark, the big things that concern me most, and I have this wonderful economist on the Joint Economic Committee, Kyle Moore, who put this together and he did a whole study on the impact of the coronavirus on the working people of America and on people of color. No surprise, if you are black or brown there’s a much greater likelihood of getting sick, much greater likelihood you’ll die, and a much greater likelihood that you lost your job.

Thompson (Host): Yeah, no, that’s real. And obviously Congress has passed legislation that has been helpful and, I guess the plan is as this goes forward to even do more legislation, correct?

Beyer: Yep, we need to do a lot more. One of the things that we can celebrate is the CARES Amendment Act that came a couple weeks later. We realized in that first big tranche of money we were sending to small businesses that bigger small businesses, the ones with 100, 200 employees, were getting all the money and the barber shops and the little construction firms and the grocery stores, like with 10 and less, 20 and less, they weren’t getting almost any of it. So we dedicated the first $75 billion just to small businesses with 10 or less. And we’re trying to get it to the people that most need it that may not have the great banking relationship and the expensive lawyer.

Protests

Thompson (Host): Top of mind for most of us, and I’m sure top of mind for you, is what’s been going on in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death. First of all, Congressman, what was your reaction when you first heard that news and saw that video?

Beyer: I was just heartbroken, Mark. It was so unnecessary, and it wasn’t accidental—it was murder. You know, the poor guy’s there pleading for his life, for his breathing, and once again over something as trivial as a possibly counterfeit $20 bill for a pack of cigarettes. You know, this is just the kind of thing where if he actually had done something wrong, give him a ticket for $50, make him appear in court in 90 days.

This was just insane and it’s on top of so many other things. Thank goodness that we have smartphones so that we see what’s happening again and again with Christian Cooper, with Ahmaud Arbery, you know. But I think we can’t be naive, this has been going on for hundreds of years for people in the African-American community in America and so much of it has been covered up, swept under the rug. Now at least we’re being able to document it and react with all the fury that we should.

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 as the Lieutenant Governor of Virginia, Ambassador to Switzerland and built a successful family business over the course of four decades.

Washington, D.C.—Today, Congressman Don Beyer (D-VA), Vice Chair of the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee (JEC), released the following statement after the Department of Labor reported that 1.9 million workers filed regular first-time unemployment claims (not seasonally adjusted) for the week ending May 23. An additional 1.2 million filed for benefits under the new Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program for gig workers and others. In total, 3.1 million people filed new unemployment claims. (The seasonally adjusted regular UI claims number was 2.1 million.)

This is the 10th week in a row that new unemployment claims have exceeded two million.

“Even as the country begins to reopen,” said Congressman Beyer, “the economy continues to hemorrhage jobs. In fact, for 10 straight weeks new unemployment claims have been far worse than anything on record.

“Reopening the economy too soon will not be the recession remedy that Republicans expect it will be if Americans are still afraid for their lives because the coronavirus is not yet contained. A recent study found that statewide social distancing orders only account for a quarter of the unemployment insurance claims filed between March 14 and April 4 and that a collapse in consumer confidence, self-imposed social distancing and supply chain disruptions account for the rest.

“Although President Trump continues to lie about his response to the pandemic being better than it has, we all know the truth—over 100,000 Americans are dead and over 40 million have lost their jobs.”

Last week, JEC Democrats released a report titled “Reopening Too Soon Will Have Steep Economic Costs.” As the report explains, Americans oppose businesses prematurely returning to normal operations by wide margins. One poll found that over two in three Americans would not feel comfortable in a retail store, while three in four would not feel comfortable in a restaurant. Another poll found that 81 percent of Americans would not feel safe returning to the workplace if their state reopens.

JEC Democrats also released an issue brief last week that explains why using the not seasonally adjusted number of unemployment claims filed each week—instead of the seasonally adjusted number—makes the most sense during a period of massive layoffs.

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 as the Lieutenant Governor of Virginia, Ambassador to Switzerland and built a successful family business over the course of four decades.