Calls for Continued Work to Prioritize Families, Workers Over Big Corporations
Today, Representative Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael) supported passage of the third wave of legislation to bring relief to millions of Americans facing immediate impacts from the coronavirus pandemic. This historic legislation will now go to the President’s desk for his signature.
Among other provisions, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act bolsters the health care system, protects frontline response workers, puts money in the pockets of individuals and families, enhances unemployment compensation, expands paid leave, ensures food security, supports small businesses, assists state and local governments, invests in schools and universities, and provides funding to states to hold safe and fair elections this year.
“This latest bill is an important step in our ongoing effort to act decisively on behalf of the American people and ensure workers and families have the resources they need throughout this unprecedented crisis,” said Huffman in a statement. “The relief provided in this legislation does not go far enough, and it is not a perfect bill by any means, but it is an important down payment for those who most urgently need our help right now: millions of workers, families, small businesses, hospitals and healthcare providers, state and local governments, NGO service providers and Native American tribes across the country. I am grateful to the Democratic negotiators who did so much to improve this bill from the original corporate-focused bailout proposal by Senate Republicans,” said Huffman, who echoed these sentiments in a tweet:
Despite his misgivings, Huffman successfully advocated for several key provisions that were included in the final bill text, including:
- The inclusion of set-aside funds for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act to assure that students with disabilities are receiving an appropriate and quality education while they are learning remotely due to school closures.
- $1.32 billion in supplemental funding for FY2020 to Community Health Centers (CHC) and extends CHC funding at the current level until November 30, 2020.
- $300 million for the Department of Commerce to assist fishery participants faced with disappearing markets, disrupted supply chains, and significant hardship caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Tribal, subsistence, commercial, charter fishermen, and aquaculture farmers are all eligible for this relief, which will be awarded on a rolling basis and include direct relief payments to those impacted.
- $25 million for the Distance Learning, Telemedicine, and Broadband Program in order to improve access to online telehealth and remote learning for rural communities grappling with a lack of connectivity in the midst of this crisis.
- $25 billion to transit agencies, with the Bay area receiving close to $1.3 billion of those funds. As a member of the Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, Rep. Huffman was an outspoken advocate of addressing transit and other infrastructure needs in the third package.
This third package builds on two bills already signed into law:
- $8.3 billion the House passed for preparedness, prevention and more, and
- The Families First Coronavirus Response Act, to help families stay healthy and make ends meet during the crisis.
Here are some of the numerous initiatives in this historic piece of legislation that will benefit the residents of California:
- A $150 Billion State and Local Coronavirus Relief Fund: Creates a $150 billion State and Local Coronavirus Relief Fund to provide states and localities additional resources to cope with the coronavirus pandemic. It is estimated that our state of California will receive approximately $15.3 billion in desperately needed funds to benefit our state’s residents.
- $260 Billion in Dramatically Expanded Unemployment Benefits: Includes numerous provisions to improve unemployment benefits including providing an additional $600 per week for the next four months, providing an additional 13 weeks of federally funded benefits, and expanding eligibility to include workers in the gig economy and self-employed workers.
- Immediate Direct Cash Payments to Lower and Middle-Income Americans: Provides for immediate, direct cash payments to lower-and middle-income Americans of $1,200 for each adult and $500 for each child, beginning to phase out at an annual income of $75,000 for an individual and $150,000 for a household.
- More Than $375 Billion in Small Business Relief: Provides more than $375 billion in small business relief, including $349 billion for forgivable loans to small businesses to pay their employees and keep them on the payroll; $17 billion for debt relief for current and new SBA borrowers; and $10 billion in immediate disaster grants.
- Approximately $200 Billion for Hospitals, Health Care Workers, and Health Research: Provides an investment of about $200 billion in hospitals, health systems, and health research, including expanding funding for the personal protective equipment desperately needed by health care workers, including ventilators, n95 masks, gowns, gloves, etc.
- $8 Billion in Flexible Funding for Tribes for Coronavirus Response and Over $2 Billion in Emergency Supplemental Funding to Support Indian Tribes, Urban Indian Health Centers, and Native Families: Provides resources for Tribes and Tribally-owned businesses to cover the costs of employee payroll and unemployment insurance costs and will ensure health, public safety, child welfare, and safety-net programs can continue operation despite increased strain caused by the public health crisis.
- More Than $100 Billion in Additional Emergency Appropriations, Including the Following:
- Transit Agencies: Provides $25 billion to transit agencies, which have all seen a drastic drop in revenues as social distancing has been implemented. This funding is to be used to protect the jobs of the employees of the transit agencies, funding their paychecks during this public health emergency. The state of California will receive $3,750,279,333 under this program.
- HUD Emergency Solution Grants: Provides $2 billion for HUD Emergency Solution Grants to states that will be distributed by formula. These grants are designed to address the impact of the coronavirus among individuals and families who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, and to support additional homeless assistance, prevention, and eviction prevention assistance. Of this $2 billion, California will receive $237,160,655. In addition, the bill provides an additional $2 billion for these grants that will be allocated by HUD to the most hard-pressed areas.
- Child Care and Development Block Grant: Supports child care and early education by providing $3.5 billion for the Child Care and Development Block Grant. California will receive $347,731,086 under this emergency appropriation.
- Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP): Provides $900 million to help low-income families pay their heating and cooling bills. California will receive $74,956,000 for this purpose during this public health emergency.
- Byrne-Justice Assistance Grant Program: Provides $850 million for this program, giving additional support to state and local law enforcement agencies, thereby allowing them, for example, to obtain the personal protective equipment and other medical items they may need during this public health emergency. California will receive $96,184,893 under this appropriation.
- CDC Coronavirus State, Local and Tribal Grants Minimum Awards: Provides about $750 million in CDC State, Local, and Tribal Grants Minimum Awards to help agencies cope with the public health emergency. The minimum award for California is $41,896,000. In addition, states can apply for additional funds above their minimum award, based on their needs.
- Election Assistance: Provides $400 million for Election Assistance Grants for states to help prepare for the 2020 elections. Coronavirus is already resulting in the postponement of some primaries and this funding can help states make voting safer for individuals. Funding can be used, for example, to increase the ability to vote by mail, expand early voting, and expand online registration. California will receive $36,293,345 for these purposes.
“Thanks to the tireless work of Congressional Democrats, this bill includes meaningful relief targeted to the unique needs of my district – including rural health care, relief for the fishing industry, broadband expansion, dedicated funding to Tribes and support for critical tribal health programs, funding for educational institutions that are so hard-hit by this crisis, and ensuring the continuity of critical social services,” Huffman added.
Huffman advocated for even more aggressive moves by Congress in an effort to aid families as well as the economy:
“As we implement Congress’ recently-enacted measures to address the pandemic and support hard-hit Americans, we must get to work on broader, longer-term measures to revive and rebuild the economy in a sustainable manner…”Congressman Jared Huffman representative of California’s 2nd Congressional District.
Huffman also put a premium on “preventing our economic stimulus programs from becoming a slush fund for special interests like Trump family businesses” and also flagged “wealthy real estate developers, foreign-flagged cruise ship companies, or the fossil fuel industry.”
The next legislative package should also include funding to secure the November election Huffman suggested, emphasizing that states should move to all-mail balloting.