Courtney Statement on House Passage of the Bipartisan CARES Act
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Congressman Joe Courtney (CT-02) voted to pass the bipartisan Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act (H.R. 784), the third coronavirus assistance package the House has passed to provide American families, workers, and small businesses with financial stability and security amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has upended life for everyone, but people in eastern Connecticut need to know that more help is on the way,” said Rep. Courtney. “In the past few days I’ve talked to hundreds of eastern Connecticut parents, workers, small business owners and sole proprietors, front-line health care workers, and others who have had their lives completely altered, and who need more resources to help weather this storm. These are the people who are going to win the battle against COVID-19 – and it’s Congress’s job to get to work, and put more resources in their toolbox. The CARES Act will put critical resources where they’re needed most right now – with America’s health care workers and hospitals, our local communities, and directly in the hands of American families, workers, and small businesses. We’ve worked together in the House to pass three bipartisan economic stabilization packages now, and we’ve got to be prepared to keep working across the aisle to do whatever is necessary to help Americans through this pandemic.”
The CARES Act will help to bring urgently needed economic relief to families and small businesses across the country, and will help ensure that America’s frontline health care professionals are able to secure the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) that they need. The CARES Act also includes a provision first introduced by Rep. Courtney that will ensure a future vaccine for COVID-19 is quickly accessible for all Americans covered by private health insurance plans. Some of the top-line provisions of the CARE Act include:
· Checks of $1200 per adult, and $500 per child to American workers making less than $75,000 and under per year, to households making $150,000 per year and under. To obtain this federal funding, Americans need to have filed their taxes, or must file immediately.
· Expansion of Unemployment Insurance (UI), including extended benefits for 13 weeks, plus an extra $600 per week, and expanded eligibility for gig workers, self-employed Americans, and contractors.
· $367 billion in forgivable loans for small businesses who employ under 500 employees, for the purpose of helping to cover payroll, rent, and utilities. This resource is only for small businesses who keep their payrolls steady through the crisis. Small businesses who pledge to keep workers would also receive cash-flow assistance structured as federally guaranteed loans. If the employer continued to pay its workers for the duration of the crisis, those loans would be forgiven.
· $500 billion in Fed and Treasury lending to larger businesses, with guardrails including no stock buybacks, no increases in executive compensation, no money for businesses owned by the President’s family or for businesses owned by Members of Congress, 72-hour disclosure of all loans, subpoena power for the Inspector General, and an oversight board headed by the Inspector General and a 5-person panel appointed by Congress.
· $130 billion for hospitals to secure resources and training to prevent, treat, and respond to COVID-19, including critically needed Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
· $150 billion in state, local, and tribal stabilization funds
· Roughly $200 billion in additional appropriations to meet additional needs
H.R. 784 is the third economic stabilization package that Rep. Courtney has helped to pass in the House of Representatives. On March 4, he voted to pass the first $8.3 billion emergency funding bill, and on March 14 he voted to pass the bipartisan Families First Coronavirus Response Act (H.R. 6201), which contained two measures that Rep. Courtney helped introduce, including one to ensure that all health insurance providers cover COVID-19 testing at no cost to patients.
Other highlights of the bipartisan CARES Act include:
· $100 billion for a new program to provide direct aid to health care institutions on the front line of this crisis—hospitals, public entities, not-for profit entities, and Medicare and Medicaid enrolled suppliers and institutional providers—to cover costs related to this public health crisis.
· $16 billion to replenish the Strategic National Stockpile supplies of pharmaceuticals, personal protective equipment, and other medical supplies, which are distributed to State and local health agencies, hospitals and other healthcare entities facing shortages during emergencies.
· $3.5 billion for BARDA to expand the production of vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics to help combat this pandemic.
· At least $250 million to expand the Hospital Preparedness Program’s support of emergency preparedness, including the National Ebola and Special Pathogens Training and Education Center (NETEC), regional, State and local special pathogens treatment centers, and hospital preparedness cooperative agreements.
· $1 billion for the Defense Production Act to bolster domestic supply chains, enabling industry to quickly ramp up production of personal protective equipment, ventilators, and other urgently needed medical supplies, and billions dollars more for federal, state, and local health agencies to purchase such equipment.
· $4.3 billion to support federal, state, and local public health agencies to prevent, prepare for, and respond to the coronavirus, including for the purchase of personal protective equipment; laboratory testing to detect positive cases; infection control and mitigation at the local level to prevent the spread of the virus; and other public health preparedness and response activities.
· $200 million for CMS to assist nursing homes with infection control and support states’ efforts to prevent the spread of coronavirus in nursing homes.
· $15.5 billion in additional funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), to ensure all Americans, including seniors and children receive the food they need.
· $45 billion for FEMA’s Disaster Relief Fund to provide for the immediate needs of state, local, tribal, and territorial governments to protect citizens and help them recovery from the overwhelming effects of COVID-19. Reimbursable activities may include medical response, personal protective equipment, National Guard deployment, coordination of logistics, safety measures, and community services nationwide
· $400 million for FEMA grants, including:
· $100 million Assistance to Firefighter Grants to provide personal protective equipment, supplies, and reimbursements.
· $100 million for Emergency Management Performance Grants which focus on emergency preparedness
· $200 million for the Emergency Food and Shelter Program which provides shelter, food, and supportive services through local service organizations.
· $30.75 billion for grants to provide emergency support to local school systems and higher education institutions to continue to provide educational services to their students and support the on-going functionality of school districts and institutions.
· $260 million for Navy operations and maintenance, including funds to support the deployment of the USNS Comfort hospital ship to New York City and the USNS Mercy to Los Angeles.
· Nearly $1.5 billion for National Guard support to States and territories to support Title 32 operations, which have been ordered to commence in New York, California, and Washington.
· $3.5 billion in additional funding for the Child Care Development Block Grant to provide childcare assistance to health care sector employees, emergency responders, sanitation workers, and other workers deemed essential during the response to the coronavirus.
· More than $7 billion for affordable housing and homelessness assistance programs. This funding will help low-income and working class Americans avoid evictions and minimize any impacts caused by loss of employment, and child care, or other unforeseen circumstances related to COVID-19, and support additional assistance to prevent eviction and for people experiencing homelessness.
· $25 billion in aid to our nation’s transit systems to help protect public health and safety while ensuring access to jobs, medical treatment, food, and other essential services.
· $10 billion in grants to help our nation’s airports as the aviation sector grapples with the most steep and potentially sustained decline in air travel in history.
· More than $6.5 billion in Federal funding for CDBG, the Economic Development Administration, and the Manufacturing Extension Partnership to help mitigate the local economic crisis and rebuild impacted industries such as tourism or manufacturing supply chains.
· Funding to strengthen response capacity and support tribal communities, including:
· $1.03 billion to the Indian Health Service to support tribal health care system response efforts;
· $100 million more for the USDA Food Distribution Program for Indian Reservations;
· $453 million to assist tribes through the Bureau of Indian Affairs
· $69 million to help tribal schools, colleges and universities through for the Bureau of Indian Education
· $300 million more to the HUD Indian Housing Block Grant program.
· $900 million for LIHEAP to help lower income households heat and cool their homes.
· $15.85 billion for to help our nation’s veterans, including to help treat COVID-19, purchase test kits, and procure personal protective equipment for clinicians, and $590 million in dedicated funding to treat vulnerable veterans, including homeless veterans and those in VA-run nursing homes
· $850 million in Byrne-JAG grants for state and local law enforcement and jails to purchase personal protective equipment, medical supplies, and overtime.
· $562 million to help small businesses by ensuring SBA has the resources to provide Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) to businesses that need financial support. This will help businesses keep their doors open and pay their employees.
· $450 million for The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) to assist food banks across the country.
· $425 million to increase access to mental health services in communities.
· $400 million in election assistance for the states to help prepare for the 2020 election cycle, including to increase the ability to vote by mail, expand early voting and online registration, and increase the safety of voting in-person by providing additional voting facilities and more poll-workers.