On Tuesday, business and community leaders tuned-in for part four of the Chamber’s highly anticipated 2020 Congressional Series, featuring a discussion with U.S. Congressman Joaquin Castro (D-TX), moderated by the Chamber’s President and CEO Richard Perez.
Congressman Castro opened by saying he and his staff have been laser focused on helping San Antonians during these unprecedented times. Residents have turned to his office for help with unemployment benefits, getting tested for COVID-19, and available resources for small businesses.
“We need to help folks. We need to do more and step up as a Congress,” Castro told business and community leaders. While Congress has passed several coronavirus packages to help state and local governments, ramp up testing and provide a $1200 stipend, he believes the federal government can do more. Castro mentioned that the House passed a fifth coronavirus relief package, the HEROES Act, that is currently being reviewed by the Senate. Provisions Castro would like to see in a fifth coronavirus relief package include extending the additional $600 per week unemployment check to claimants, another round of stimulus checks, and federal aid to state and local governments. He urged business and community leaders to call their Senators and share their priorities for the fifth coronavirus relief package.
Castro expressed his support for the City of San Antonio’s commitment to using CARES Act funding for workforce development and would like to see the federal government include more funding for workforce development in the next coronavirus relief package. He wants workforce training programs to focus on jobs of the future and in emerging sectors. In addition to workforce development, he would like to help small businesses more, by improving the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) to ensure those who do not have a longstanding relationship with a banker are not left out of the PPP.
He expressed his opposition to President Trump’s measure restricting visas to the United States and was glad the president rescinded the measure. Castro is very supportive of comprehensive immigration reform and believes with a Democratic President and Congress it can be done.
The webinar concluded with Castro talking about the tragic death of Vanessa Guillen and police reform. Castro is supportive of legislative proposals to take the prosecution of cases out of military justice system and move them into civilian justice system. He believes the killing of George Floyd has brought about the largest social movement since the 1960s. His hope is that this energy and activism will turn into real police reform at all levels of government. Castro supports ending qualified immunity and changing collective bargaining agreements.
Congressman Castro took questions from viewers on a variety of issues, including infrastructure, reopening of schools, COVID-19 testing, and universal healthcare coverage. Given time constraints, Castro was unable to answer all viewers’ questions live but agreed to do so after the event. Chamber staff has shared all unanswered questions with the Congressman’s office, and once they are answered, they will be posted on the Chamber’s microsite, sachamberrapidresponse.org.
To watch a recording of the webinar, click here.