Salem, Oregon, March 8, 2021–Democratic Party Chairs representing all Oregon counties that fall within Oregon Congressional District Five have issued a joint statement accusing Congressman Kurt Schrader of betraying the interests of his constituents.
Schrader was one of only two House Democrats to oppose the American Rescue Plan providing a broad range of assistance to households and local governments suffering from Covid 19 impacts.
In an open letter signed by the Democratic Party chairs of Clackamas, Marion, Lincoln, Polk and Tillamook counties, the five party chairs noted that the bill provides essential relief to the tens of thousands of Oregonians who have lost jobs as a result of the pandemic and the nearly 100,000 who are behind in rent payments. “Congressman, the American Rescue Plan is the centerpiece of President Joe Biden’s agenda to defeat the COVID-19 pandemic and rescue our economy. For you to vote against this critical legislation without consulting the communities in this district, or providing a clear explanation, is a betrayal of your duty to best serve your constituents. We urge you to support this critically important plan as the measure returns for House consideration this week.”
“We are profoundly disappointed in your votes against the needs of your constituents directly impacted by the pandemic and earnestly request the opportunity to meet with you,” they added, reminding Schrader that his margin of victory in the last election was three points less than the district victory margin of the Biden-Harris ticket. ”Your decision to reject the President’s immensely popular agenda indicates to us how out of touch with your constituents you have become,” they said.
TEXT OF THE LETTER FOLLOWS:
The Honorable Congressman Kurt Schrader
United States House of Representative
2431 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C 20515
We write to you not only as elected leaders of our local county Democratic Parties, but also as your constituents. On February 27th, you were one of only two Democrats in the House of Representatives to vote against the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, H.R. 1319. As of March 3rd, you have yet to issue a press release or adequately address your highly controversial vote.
Congressman, the American Rescue Plan is the centerpiece of President Joe Biden’s agenda to defeat the COVID-19 pandemic and rescue our economy. For you to vote against this critical legislation without consulting the communities in this district, or providing a clear explanation, is a betrayal of your duty to best serve your constituents. We urge you to support this critically important plan as the measure returns for House consideration this week.”
The American Rescue Plan has broad, bipartisan support among the American public, including among a majority of Republicans in several national polls. Here are some of the provisions that you voted against:
$1400 relief checks to all adults earning $75,000 or $150,000 per couple. Direct payments during the pandemic have been a lifeline to millions of Americans, allowing them to catch up from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Furthermore, a February 3rd Quinnipiac University poll shows that 90% of Democrats and 64% of Republicans support these direct payments to Americans.
Refundable Child Tax Credits: This bill increased the Child Tax Credit to $3,000 per child ($3,600 per child under 6) and made them refundable. This means that working families across America will be able to receive the benefit regardless of how much taxes they pay. This will make a massive impact on working families just trying to make ends meet.
Extends and expands unemployment benefits for tens of thousands of your constituents who are out of work through no fault of their own. This bill extends key unemployment programs which are set to expire March 14th through August 29th. In addition to the extension of benefits for gig workers and others not traditionally eligible for unemployment benefits, it increases enhanced Federal payments from an extra $300 to $400.
Essential funding for vaccine distribution and testing. The COVID-19 Pandemic has lasted over a year now, and will continue until we get most Americans vaccinated. Without this funding, this already complex nationwide vaccination effort will suffer even longer delays, costing more American lives and further negatively impacting our economy.
A $15/hour Federal minimum wage. You listed this as your main reason that you voted against H.B. 1319, falsely claiming that no small business owners support this provision, and disingenuously leaving out that the increase would be phased in over four years. Oregon is already on the path to a $15 minimum wage, and your repeated votes against raising the Federal minimum wage puts Oregon’s businesses and industries at a competitive disadvantage to other states who are at the current federal minimum wage of $7.25. Low wages keep millions of hard working Americans on SNAP and other taxpayer funded programs that act as corporate subsidies. There are countless studies that not only refute the false narrative that an increase in the minimum wage kills jobs, but it actually creates them because of increased demand.
Emergency Rental Relief. Nearly 100,000 Oregonians are behind on their rent due to the pandemic. A PSU report indicates that if more relief is not passed, we could see a wave of evictions of unimaginable scale.
Congressman Schrader, we are profoundly disappointed in your votes against the needs of your constituents directly impacted by the pandemic and earnestly request the opportunity to meet with you. It is important to us that we hear your explanation of this vote, and for you to hear from us on the need to support legislation that helps your constituents. You have a solemn responsibility to represent and to fight for your constituents. Joe Biden won OR CD-5 by a 10 point margin, while you carried the district by only 7 points, your narrowest margin in several cycles.
Your decision to reject the President’s immensely popular agenda indicates to us how out of touch with your constituents you have become. It’s time for you to start listening to the people you serve.
We look forward to meeting with you soon,
Chair, Clackamas County Democrats
Chair, Marion County Democrats
Chair, Polk County Democrats
Chair, Tillamook County Democrats
Chair, Lincoln County Democratic Central Committee