US budget deficit hits all-time high of $864 billion in June

The U.S. Capitol building is seen from the Washington Monument in Washington.  AP file

Let’s be clear: No Oklahoman wants to be unemployed. A job is about more than a paycheck — it’s a source of pride.

Millions of Oklahoma residents have filed for unemployment benefits for the first time in the past 16 weeks through no fault of their own.

Unless the Senate passes the HEROES Act, which proposes continuing COVID response payments into January, Americans will needlessly suffer.

With the passage of the HEROES Act, working Americans would receive hazard pay of up to $10,000 for essential workers, 43% of whom are people of color.

Let us also not forget, laid-off mothers and fathers have yet another burden to face in the coming weeks: the reopening of schools with no plan to keep our children safe.

With a new school year just weeks away, we don’t have much time, but there is a solution: Congress must pass the HEROES Act.

The importance of this legislation cannot be overstated. The bill would provide the necessary funding for K-12 education systems to safely reopen by providing essential sanitary services, proper protective equipment for teachers and more.

Make no mistake: Everyone wants our children back in the classroom. But there is no room for trial and error when it comes to reopening schools.

It is not OK to think this is OK.

Editor's Note: Jim Curry is the president of the Oklahoma AFL-CIO.

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