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Say HELL NO to the HEALS Act!

Youth across the country are looking to elected officials for critical coronavirus action, such as making testing available at schools, ensuring workplace safety, and keeping people housed. But, as usual, Congress is at odds. In this episode of Our Future Now!, college students Nataki Close & Zanagee Artis join hosts Natalie Mebane and Jonah Gottlieb to talk about two competing bills: the HEALS Act vs. the HEROES Act.

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In this episode of Our Future Now!, National Children’s Campaign co-founders Natalie Mebane and Jonah Gottlieb are joined by Nataki Close, the founder of Take a Stand Tally and the Tampa Bay Relief Effort, and Zanagee Artis, the co-founder and Advocacy Director of Zero Hour. The four compare the Republican-sponsored HEALS Act to a competing Democratic proposal called the HEROES Act.

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This episode of Our Future Now! was produced and edited by Goal17Media.com and is available on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or Spotify.


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Visit National Children’s Campaign if you’re interested in getting involved.


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[00:00:00] Natalie: Our feature now is produced by Goal 17 Media, storytellers for the common good.

Jonah: They need to be standing with children and families in the United States of America and making sure that every single young person in this country is fully supported by the entire weight of the United States government.

Natalie: Hi everyone. I’m Natalie  and I’m the co founder [00:00:30] and vice president of public policy and government relations for the national children’s campaign.

Jonah: Hi, I’m Jonah Gottlieb and I am the co founder and executive director of the national children’s campaign.

Natalie: On today’s episode, we will cover the newly introduced Senate stimulus bill, the heals act.

We’ll also discuss the impact of this bill and the main issues that we have with it. We will talk about what we actually need for just recovery and how the heels act threatens the safety of workers and puts kids and staff in [00:01:00] schools at risk. Jonah just a few months ago, we were sitting here discussing the heroes act, which is the house version of the stimulus bill.

It passed the house in may, and we have been waiting patiently for this bill to be taken up by the Senate. Um, as you know, of course the Senate never even took up the hero’s act and instead has recently introduced their own version of their stimulus bill called the heals act.

Jonah: In the heals [00:01:30] act. There are a few things that we like and a ton that we did not.

And so today we’re really trying to put a human face on these problems and talk about how people’s lives, especially children’s lives are going to be impacted by the recklessness and the dangerous practices that are included in this bill. And so today we’re joined by Zenatti artists. The nausea is the co founder and advocacy director of zero hour and a rising junior at Brown [00:02:00] university, studying political science and environmental studies.

Thank you so much for joining us today as a nausea. Hi,

Zanagee: thank you so much for having me. I’m excited to have this conversation today.

Jonah: Likewise and our other guest is Nataki close. She is a 19 year old from Tallahassee, Florida, and the founder of take a stand tally and the Tampa Bay relief effort. She is a sophomore at the university of South Florida, double majoring in biomedical sciences and sociology.

She was also a member of the [00:02:30] women’s track and field team as a mid distance sprinter. Hi,

Nataki: thanks for having me

Natalie: today. So, you know, going into the heels act, which is the new Senate stimulus bill that just was recently introduced. One of the things that we saw that change drastically, even from the previous stimulus bill, the previous stimulus bill that became law back in March is currently, uh, people who are unemployed are able to get an extra $600 a week in unemployment benefits during this time.

[00:03:00] Now this has been a huge help. To the over 30 million people in America who are currently unemployed or have lost their businesses as a result of coronavirus. And this new plan introduced by Mitch McConnell would reduce that payment from $600 a week to $200. And that gap, that gap of 400 is not a gap that somebody can just suddenly fulfill.

And we are obviously not through this pandemic and obviously not through this economic crisis. [00:03:30] And

Jonah: we know exactly why they’re doing it. It’s because their corporate donors need employees to go back to work so that they can keep making money. And what happens is that they’re trying to just starve the economy back to life.

They’re trying to make it so that a worker has to choose. Between going back to work and putting their health and their family’s health at risk and starving the icing on the cake with all of this. And just another sign that they’re [00:04:00] only in this two years be helping their corporate donors with this bill is that they’re trying to push through this thing called liability waivers.

If your boss or your school forces you back to work or forces you back to school, you are able to Sue them. If you get coronavirus. And so obviously that’s a big deterrent from them forcing you to get sick and die. And so what they’re trying to do is waive the liability for school districts, for States and for corporations, which means that if you’re an [00:04:30] essential worker, if you’re a student, if you’re a teacher, if you’re, you know, any other type of worker, any other type of participant in our society, your school, or your boss can force you to go back.

And if you get sick, you can’t Sue. There’s no legal protections for you. And if you die, the only thing that your family can do is go to your socially distance funeral.

Natalie: And

Zanagee: so I actually watched part of the press briefing that McConnell was giving after the reef, the release of the bill. [00:05:00] And he said, quote, the country cannot stand an epidemic of lawsuits on the heels of the pandemic.

Essentially saying he recognizes that lawsuits could happen and people could die. And he also wants no one to be able to Sue for wrongful death of these people during this global pandemic,

Natalie: you know, it’s weird that he, he just straight up admitted it. It’s like saying, look, we know it’s not safe. Look, [00:05:30] some of your kids might die at school.

But guess what? We really can’t afford those wrongful death lawsuit.

Jonah: They just don’t care. They’re just saying the quiet part out loud now.

Natalie: No, not even hiding it.

Jonah: They’re just like, what are you going to do about it?

Natalie: And in the press conference, Yeah. It’s like in case you did not know I’m going to forcibly open your school.

And if you are a teacher and you have to choose between your livelihood, which [00:06:00] by the way is also your health insurance for you and your family, I’m going to make you choose between that and your

Zanagee: right. And one of my parents is actually. I teach her in my public school, the public school I graduated from.

And that’s just a reality for so many people in this country who will have to choose between their health and livelihood over their job because of. [00:06:30] Senate Republicans who are funded by corporate backers and have their own great health insurance and are essentially profiting off of the, the pandemic.

Nataki: Yeah, it’s really interesting. Like both of my parents are actually professors at universities. So them going, like the chances of them going back, I have two other siblings then going back, could becoming infected if something were to happen to them. My parents, you know, um, [00:07:00] they, I mean have PhDs. There’s not many other working places that they can go into other than teaching.

So making that such a liability for them to go into work every single day around like my, my parents teach hundreds of students at a time. This is that. Big universities, not just in small classrooms, you know, so having to switch that. And then also when they went to our online learning, um, they never got any type of stimulus, any.

Type of stimulant [00:07:30] supplement for having to switch online. Um, and that was a big struggle for them being used to teaching labs and teaching things that are very face to face and interactive and having to completely jump online and not be able to control necessarily what they can really teach. So, um, yeah, that’s very interesting,

Natalie: you know, what every school is going to do in terms of. What their plans are. Um, what is, what is your school planning when you come back, [00:08:00] you know, and starting in the fall, in terms of their, do they have a in-person plan? Are they going to go fully online? So I know

Nataki: most of my classes personally are going to be online.

They have a couple, like my labs are going to be hybrid, so it’s like, we meet. Probably once every two weeks or something like that. Um, but I know being in Tampa, being in a very big and diverse atmosphere and climate, we have a lot of internationals, the students, and we have a lot of students coming from.

Many different places around, not just America, but rhino [00:08:30] around the world. And they haven’t really clarified how they’re going to keep everybody safe in that aspect. As in like, if they’re going to provide testing, if you have to be tested before you come back. Yeah. The school. So there’s been a lot of confusion about that.

And even with that classes that are going to be in person, they haven’t necessarily told us, like, is there going to be a limit on the class size? Um, do we have to wear certain things to class? They haven’t specified any of that.

Zanagee: And I think that that really shows the big disparity among colleges. [00:09:00] So Brown, we got a 12 page report called transitioning to a healthy fall, and it talks about how we are going to be tested.

Everyone on campus will be tested three days after arriving. We will have densified dorms. The freshmen will actually not even be on campus in the fall. They’ll be arriving in the spring for their first semester. And so we have this comprehensive plan. That’s made [00:09:30] possible in part by Brown’s large endowment, right?

This is not a privilege that every school is able to have in allowing certain people to learn remotely, a large population of the student body to learn remotely and also offer a choice in whether or not students can be on campus or not.

Nataki: And I also think that, you know, offering this remotely, of course, insurance safety and other things like that.

But I know personally at our school and I have heard many of my [00:10:00] friends talk about at their schools. There hasn’t been much, um, consideration for those who aren’t able to learn online at home. So for instance, I had many teammates that they don’t own their own laptops. They relied on the libraries at our school too.

You know, do their internet education. So what kind of reparations are going to be put in place for those who can’t afford laptops, who don’t have stable wifi, who are being forced to stay at home, but they don’t have the resources that they need to do online learning. And I think that’s definitely something [00:10:30] that the school system in these universities need to take into account while they’re trying to push, you know, us going back to

Natalie: school.

So we are nowhere near. We need to be where we need to be in order to open schools. And as you both mentioned, In terms of Dynegy you said when you go to school, they’re going to test you all within three days. They’re going to send, you know, make sure you all get tested. Uh, the heroes act, this is one big discrepancy in terms of money for testing, the heroes act would provide $75 billion for testing and [00:11:00] contact tracing.

Meaning that if you do test positive, there’s actually funds to help. You essentially retrace your steps of who you’ve had contact with and the last few weeks so that they can also get to those people and test them as well. And then heals act only offers 16 billion for testing and contact tracing. And this is really important in order to even.

Get to a place where we are able to open up schools and businesses if without proper testing and without being able to [00:11:30] find people before they actually keeps, you know, keep spreading it to other people. We’re not going to get to a place where we even fit the criteria to open our schools and businesses.

So really we’re just holding ourselves back.

Zanagee: Yes, definitely. And to go off that. That huge discrepancy. I mean, do the math $59 billion difference between the heroes act allocation and the heals act allocation. And so what does that mean? So for Brown, that doesn’t mean a lot for [00:12:00] us. We’re doing random testing, following everyone, getting tested at the beginning of the semester.

And we’re also requiring every student on campus to enroll in a contact tracing program. This isn’t something that’s available to every student. In every state in Rhode Island is doing really good. Rhode Island is great with the coronavirus right now, compared to every other state. And we have all these things that the heroes act is pushing for.

It should be the standard throughout the country.

Nataki: And it’s [00:12:30] interesting for you to mention Rhode Island as well because me being in Florida, which is like the epicenter of everything,

Jonah: things going wrong,

Nataki: how y’all are putting in all these practices in place at Brown and me at USF, you know, we have more cases, more deaths per day, and yet we’re doing less than you all are.

So that’s just saying the. Discrepancies between not just universities, but between States in terms of how they’re dealing with this

Jonah: epidemic.

[00:13:00] Natalie: You know, thinking of the fact that we already know that this, this whole pandemic has been taxing on people financially, right? So many people have lost their jobs. One of the results of all these job losses and businesses being destroyed are the fact that now we’re facing as announcement a few months, we’re facing mass evictions.

This has been sort of the next step of this crisis is that, you know, they were expecting. [00:13:30] Millions of people to lose either their homes or their home, their, their apartments that they’re renting any place that they’re renting as a result of not having, um, having an income now with the heroes act, it also institutes a nationwide 12 month more Torian.

On evictions and foreclosures for all renters and homeowners and a 60 day mortgage forbearance for delinquent borrowers. Meaning that if you’re behind on your mortgage, you kind of have like a, more of a grace period for 60 days. [00:14:00] So that’s excellent. We need that. You can’t say to somebody who has not been employed for months, who has not had their business running for months that, Oh, well, yes.

You and your families are just going to be homeless now. Like how can you imagine a family losing their home or losing their apartment? Losing their housing overall, because of something that they have nothing to do with something that they could not have prevented and something that they cannot change.

I do not want to see a whole bunch of homeless kids now who are trying [00:14:30] to balance going back to school, which they’re already going to be at risk of, of getting sick from. And now it’s hopper for that. They’re trying to find a place to live. That is absolutely ridiculous. Um, the heels act, unfortunately, It doesn’t offer any extension for evictions or moratoriums on evictions or mortgage or foreclosures.

So that is something that is going to really hit us. And then we already seen right now is starting to happen.

Jonah: And when we’re talking about this, I want to make sure that we’re realizing how many [00:15:00] people this is impacting. So some reports are estimating that as many as 40 million people will lose their homes and will have nowhere to live 40 million.

Nataki: Yeah. So it’s interesting to look at these statistics, especially on a state by state basis, because it definitely brings the problem closer to home. Seeing myself in Florida with 51% of people facing eviction. No, this is my hometown. This is where my family grew, grew up. Seeing people involved in my organization, take a stand [00:15:30] tally that.

Are struggling at home. We had food drives. We had several events trying to give resources to these families in need, but in terms of facing eviction, you know, there’s only so much we can do. So acts like this from the Senate and from our public officials, this is something that they need to be working at.

Natalie: And I

Zanagee: just want to say, I think it’s really interesting that there is this big emphasis on. Opening the economy and having people go back to work and like, we’ve talked about already, [00:16:00] some of these people don’t have jobs to go back to you. And if the heels act passes as is, and a bunch of people are evicted, there’s no way these people are going to be able to get jobs.

How are you going to get it a job without house? You have no way to no internet. You can’t get follow up from. And interview eventually you won’t be able to pay for your phone. You can’t get bills sent to you. Like there’s so many [00:16:30] problems with that, and people are just expected to find their own way around it.

And I also want to point out that that heals act, unlike the heroes act has an allocation of $377 million for white house improvements. But they don’t care about if you’re getting evicted from your own house that’s on you.

Nataki: Yeah. It definitely plays into the cycle of people in power, putting in place, their own [00:17:00] privilege and their own power over what they would quote as you know, everyday Americans.

Just because they’re public officials and have this power. They think that they are more than everybody else and better than everybody else. And so when bills like this come into play, it’s like, they’re not thinking about the everyday American. They’re only thinking as if it pertains to their own lives.

Natalie: So, you know, that’s really shocking to consider that right now, as you can imagine. Yeah. Every dollar counts, every dollar counts for somebody who’s in need. Every dollar counts for somebody who’s about to get [00:17:30] evicted or have their house for closed on yet, they’re able to allocate $377 million to upkeep the white house.

I mean of all the houses in the country right now that I’m worried about. That is not the house I’m most concerned about. So I didn’t even know that. Thank you for pointing that out as an odd, you just, how inequitable it is.

So in the, if you could tell Mitch McConnell, Donald Trump, [00:18:00] Nancy Pelosi, and Chuck Schumer, one final thing about what you feel young people need from this package, what would it be?

Nataki: Well, if I was talking to all those very big people, I think. My major point would be for them to think about their own kids and to think about what their needs are.

This would be for the people, their kids in their lives and the children in their lives. Um, one thing being. You know, better education. So say for education, you know, not [00:18:30] forcing these kids to go back. Um, what would you do if you were in these parents’ shoes? Um, with the kids and teens who are working in this businesses, you know, providing them better PPE, better protection for when they have to go back home to their elderly parents or grandparents that have higher risks of contracting the virus, you know, what things are being put in place?

So that these kids can be pretended for the future because the kids are our future. You know, we have to protect them at all costs.

Zanagee: I would tell [00:19:00] them that they need to think long and hard about what kind of future they want young people to live in months from now years from now, because this bill has the power to influence.

The future of young people in this country, this bill will impact the livelihoods of my family, of the family, of young peoples all around the country and their experiences at school, their every day life. And so [00:19:30] think about that, like Nataki said as if your own kid is going to be impacted by this pandemic and think about what kind of solution you would support if your children’s lives were on the line.

Jonah: I would just really reiterate what they actually told us when I was, when I got the chance to meet with them, which is that they stood with young people and they were here to fight for our future. And so I would just want to remind them of that and let them know [00:20:00] now is the time to make those words matter.

We can get the bill that we need for the American people and for America’s children specifically, if we are willing to fight for it. And so we need speaker Pelosi. We need Senator Schumer. We need every single person who says they care about kids and poses with kids in their campaign ads to stand with us.

Now we need them to fight for us. We need them to make us a priority. They need to be standing with children and families in the United States [00:20:30] of America and making sure that every single young person in this country is fully supported by the entire weight of the United States government.

Zanagee: Thank you for saying that, Jonah.

And I think that that is exactly why zero hour and the national children’s campaign have launched the hashtag vote for our future at campaign, because we need every young person, every person who has faced barriers to voting, [00:21:00] who. Hasn’t voted before and previous elections, people need to get engaged.

And that is what this campaign is all about. Cause we’re seeing right now that elected officials are not caring about the voices of young people in this country. And we have an opportunity in November to make our voices matter. And fight for those who are on the front lines. Of all of these issues are essential workers in the country.

Right now, people on the front lines of climate change on the front lines of racial [00:21:30] injustice in this country. And these are the issues that we’re going to be voting on for our future in

Jonah: November. So national children’s campaign and zero hour through election day are hosting virtual events, aimed at empowering young people to stand up and take action in their communities.

So that means organized. That means educate, and that means vote. And so we want to make sure that every single American is engaged in our civic process in some way. And so for young people, we are specifically targeting those [00:22:00] who are too young to vote and making sure that they are able to get every single person who cares about them, who is eligible to vote, to vote on their behalf.

So for any young person who wants to get involved, please direct your loved ones to vote for our future.org/vote there they can register to vote. And for any adults, anyone who is of legal voting age and who has eligible to vote also vote for our future.org/vote that vote with the number for our [00:22:30] future.org/vote to register, to vote and get involved.

And lastly, please, if you want to buy, we’ve got some really cool t-shirts and hooks and face masks. So please vote for our future.org/merch. Sorry, you can check out all that. Every single dollar that you spend that goes to zero or national children’s campaign, we’ll go right back into these events and empowering young people to organize in their own communities and give them the tools and the resources they need to create change in the.

[00:23:00] Natalie: Nataki I want to thank you so much for joining us this evening. Is there anything else you’d like to leave? Any final thoughts you want to leave with our audience before you go?

Nataki: Well, first of all, thank you all for having me. This is a great opportunity to speak on behalf of my organization. Take a stand tally, which is a youth organization.

Um, we’re on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and also our relief fund in Tampa. For those businesses that were damaged [00:23:30] during. The riots that occurred. And also that have been foreclosed because of the coronavirus, um, props to that. I have a chance to donate. That would be very helpful. And again, thank you all for having me today.

This is a great opportunity.

Natalie: Well, thank you so much for joining us here at Nataki. We’re really happy to have had you today and for using ID. Same question to you. Is there any other last thing you want to say for our audience or any other final thoughts for, for those listening?

Zanagee: Yes. Thanks so much for having me.

I am so glad to have been a part of this [00:24:00] important conversation and definitely follow the national children’s campaign on social media. And follow along with our campaign vote for our future.org. It’s been such a pleasure organizing with NCC throughout this entire process. And I’m so glad to be working with you all through November.

And if you want to get involved with us, you can visit vote for our future.org.

Jonah: Thank you both so much for being here and for all of your activism and amazing [00:24:30] work on behalf of America’s children. Thank you.

Nataki: This was great.

Zanagee: Thank you so much.

Jonah: Thanks for tuning in to this episode of our future. Now please call tweet and email your senators and tell them that the heals act is unacceptable and cannot include liability waivers that put the American people at risk. We need serious changes that help the American people immediately. All links [00:25:00] mentioned in today’s show are available in the show description.

So please be sure to check out as the nausea and the talkie and their work. Be sure to also visit vote for our future.org. That’s vote the number for our future.org. For more information on our virtual events, merchandise, voter registration, and how to make a difference in your community.

Natalie: Our feature now is produced by goal 17 media storytellers for the common good.

We would like to give a special thanks to our media partners, [00:25:30] parents . Be sure to subscribe on your favorite streaming platform and share this episode with your family and friends on social media. I’m Natalie

Jonah: and I’m Jonah Gottlieb.

Natalie: And this is our future. No .