WASHINGTON, D.C – The U.S. Chamber of Commerce today launched the “Cost of Inaction” campaign to quantify and bring to life the very real pain Americans are feeling every day that Congress and the administration fail to provide additional economic relief to individuals, families, businesses, and states impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.
“The inability of Congress and the administration to reach a compromise has a very real and very large human cost,” said Neil Bradley, executive vice president and chief policy officer at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “For schools and businesses to get the resources they need to safely reopen, for small businesses to keep their doors open, and for those that have lost their jobs to continue to provide for their families, Congress must act. There is no excuse for inaction.”
To launch the campaign, the Chamber is focusing first on the costs associated with safely reopening K-12 schools across the country. In the coming days, the campaign will illustrate how individuals and various industries are being impacted by Congress' inability to reach a compromise.
Costs Associated with K-12 Schools
“Our nation’s schools face numerous challenges in safely reopening for in-person education, but lack of funding and the threat of lawsuits shouldn’t be among them. Yet, because of inaction on a phase IV package, that is the reality confronting our schools,” Bradley said.
The School Superintendents Association has estimated that it will cost the average school district $1.8 million or $485 per student in additional costs for disinfectants, personal protective equipment, and other preparations to reopen for the 2020–2021 school year. The House-passed HEROES Act provides $58 billion for K-12 education and the Senate proposed HEALS Act proposed $70 billion in aid. Yet not a dime of that will reach our local schools if Congress and the administration fail to reach an agreement.
At the same time, school districts across the country – from Pennsylvania to California – are raising concerns about the potential for COVID-related litigation. Spurious lawsuits could quickly bankrupt school districts who are already confronting large budget shortfalls. That is why the School Superintendents Association, Association of Educational Service Agencies, and the National School Boards Association have all asked Congress to enact a liability safe harbor for schools. For a liability safe harbor to become law, Congress must act.
As part of the #CostOfInaction campaign, the Chamber will continue to highlight additional ways the impasse in Congress is hurting American families, schools and businesses. The campaign will rally other national industry associations and the Chamber’s vast network of state and local chambers to illustrate the impact in communities and industries across the country and urge Congress to provide the relief Americans need.