Sen. Chris Coons, D-Delaware, joined MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” to discuss the three national crises the country is experiencing.
Coons highlighted the day’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on police reform, the bipartisan CORPS Act he announced to expand national service programs to respond to the COVID-19 crisis, and his proposed legislation to offer a second round of the Paycheck Protection Program loans-to-grants to the smallest businesses with the most need.
On police reform, Coons said, “First, we could have a big impact by changing the standard for when it's possible for a federal prosecutor to come in and prosecute a federal civil rights violation. That's a provision in the Senate and the House bills, the one that I'm co-sponsoring, it’s led by Sens. [Cory] Booker and [Kamala] Harris, called the Justice and Policing Act. It would also give subpoena power to the federal Department of Justice to do pattern and practice investigations of police departments that have a long history of abuse in terms of their use of force policies. I do think you'll see broad agreement on changing use of force reporting and on preventing officers who have been decertified in one state from simply moving to another and being rehired by another agency. I suspect you'll see a ban on chokeholds and hopefully the funding, federally as well as the support at the state and local level for the reliable and continuous use of body cams and the release of that information to the public.”
On the CORPS Act, new legislation to expand national service, Coons said, “We are going through three different pandemics at the same time: COVID-19 and the recession and systemic racism. All three of which impact more heavily black and brown communities in America. And this expanded opportunity to earn a college tuition scholarship and to earn a decent wage, this bill would increase the living stipend and provide health insurance for those doing national service. This would create a great new way for folks of all backgrounds in our country to come together and to serve and strengthen our communities.”
On a new small business program proposed with Sens. Ben Cardin, D-Maryland, and Jeanne Shaheen, D-New Hampshire, Coons said, “[The Prioritized Paycheck Protection Program] would make the second round of PPP loans available first to those companies that have fewer than ten employees and have lost more than half of their income and would allow them a rapid approval for a second PPP round. I'm also actively engaged in supporting a new round of financing through what are called Community Development Financial Institutions or CDFIs. These are often at the very lowest level grassroots organizations that prioritize minority and low-income communities, Stepping Stones Federal Credit Union in my own hometown of Wilmington in the East Side provides affordable mortgages, payday loans, car loans on terms that are very favorable with a locally-based and community-managed financial institution. We're trying to prioritize getting resources out through that vehicle. Responding to the protests of the last three weeks does require comprehensive policing reform, but it also requires more resources for economic opportunity and for health equity so that black and brown communities across the United States see action immediately.”
Full audio and video is available at bit.ly/2C8EplD.