As you may have heard, last night, the House of Representatives and the Senate passed critical COVID-19 relief as a part of the annual year-end spending legislation.
This has been a difficult and challenging year by all measures. The health and economic impacts of this pandemic continue to be staggering, affecting all aspects of our lives and our livelihoods. Our communities continue to bear the brunt of responding to this public health emergency.
For months, I have heard from our neighbors, our local leaders, and the experts here in our community about what the needs of our district are, and I have used our stories to advocate for additional legislation to provide relief.
This agreement should have passed months ago, but I am glad that the House and Senate finally reached bipartisan consensus to provide COVID relief that addresses many of the concerns facing communities, which is why I voted in favor of it. The bill contains extended unemployment benefits, direct stimulus payments for American families, support for small businesses, rental assistance, funding for schools and local transit authorities, and funding for vaccine distribution.
This bill also includes among its many provisions my bipartisan legislation to help small businesses during this time by making certain expenses paid through PPP loans eligible for tax deductions. Small businesses are the backbone of our communities, and my provision reverses misguided IRS guidance that would have hurt small businesses in our district and across the country.
Here is a summary of what the year-end COVID-19 package will provide:
- Economic Impact Payments: $600 per adult and child; payments could begin to be distributed as soon as next week.
- Enhanced Unemployment Insurance Benefits: averts expiration of Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits for millions and restores a $300 per week UI enhancement for Americans who are out of work.
- Paycheck Protection Funding: $284 billion for a new and second-round of Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans; a simplified loan forgiveness process for PPP loans under $150,000; key modifications to PPP to better serve the smallest businesses, struggling non-profits, and independent restaurants; and $15 billion in dedicated funding for entertainment venues and cultural institutions.
- Small Business Grants: $20 billion for targeted EIDL grants of $10,000.
- Nutrition Assistance: $13 billion in increased SNAP and child nutrition benefits to help relieve the hunger crisis.
- Rental Assistance: $25 billion for rental assistance and an extension of the eviction moratorium.
- Education and Child Care: $82 billion in funding for colleges and schools, including support for HVAC repair and replacement to mitigate virus transmission and reopen classrooms, and $10 billion for child care assistance to help get parents back to work and keep child care providers open.
- Broadband Access: $7 billion to increase access to broadband, including a new Emergency Broadband Benefit to help millions of students, families and unemployed workers afford the broadband they need during the pandemic.
- Vaccine Distribution: Billions in funding to accelerate vaccine distribution and to implement a strong national testing and tracing strategy.
In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, Congress must respond to the changing needs of the people across our country in a meaningful way. This agreement leaves critical needs unmet, and there will be much more work to do in the weeks and months ahead.
I am committed to fighting for our district as we face this challenge together. And everyone in my office is ready to help in any way we can. Please do not hesitate to call my office to share your thoughts or get help—that is what we are here for.