Historic Coronavirus Legislation that Puts Families and Workers First Passes House

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Washington, March 27, 2020 | comments
I am proud to have voted today to protect our workers, health professionals, small businesses and veterans from this grave health and financial crisis we face. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security, or CARES, Act, will swiftly bring Americans much-needed relief.
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WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL-23) voted to pass the historic Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security, or CARES, Act, which will now go to the President’s desk for his signature and will bring swift and much-needed relief to our financial and health systems.


“I am proud to have voted today to protect our workers, health professionals, small businesses and veterans from this grave health and financial crisis we face,” said Rep. Wasserman Schultz.  “In Florida, where we are seeing one of the worst infection surges in the nation, we desperately need the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security, or CARES, Act. With the CARES Act, workers will see massive investments in unemployment benefits, and an added 13 weeks of benefits, and small businesses will receive significant loan forgiveness assistance tied to keeping their employees on their payroll.“

“Democrats also made sure that working class families get quick help, with as much as $3,400 for a family of four,” Wasserman Schultz added.  “We made sure small businesses receive an infusion of fast relief, including emergency aid to help cover payroll, rent and utility costs. We blocked secret corporate bailouts and add real oversight requirements to watchdog taxpayer dollars. This package is not perfect, and more will help will be needed, but now is not the time to let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Our families, small businesses and hospitals need this help, desperately.”

As Chair of the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Subcommittee, I made sure we included nearly $20 billion to ensure veterans’ health needs are met, whether at the VA or local ERs and clinics. I have also worked to ensure our VAs can assist our local communities if they reach full capacity. Included in the overall CARES Act is:

  • 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 Florida will receive approximately $8.3 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.  These payments will provide individuals with the cash they need right now to survive with much of the economy currently shut down.
  • 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 Our Hospitals, Health Care Workers, and Health Research:  Provides an investment of about $200 billion in our hospitals, health systems, and health research, including expanding funding for the personal protective equipment desperately needed by our health care workers, including ventilators, n95 masks, gowns, gloves, etc.
  • 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.  Florida will receive $968.6 million 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, Florida will receive $90.7 million. 
    • 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.  Florida will receive $222 million 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.  Florida will receive $53.7 million 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.  Florida will receive $51.6 million 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 Florida is $30.3 million. 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.  Florida will receive $20.1 million for these purposes.

 

For our veterans, I worked diligently to secure these Department of Veterans Affairs funds:

 

  • $14.4 billion to support the surge in demand for healthcare services at VA hospitals and clinics. This includes the purchase of medical equipment, coronavirus test kits, and personal protective equipment.
  • Will allow the VA to expand telehealth visits and support including tele-ICU and teleradiology capabilities.
  • The funding addresses the needs of vulnerable veteran populations, including Healthcare for Homeless Veterans, Supportive Services for the Veterans Families program, as well as caring for COVID-19 positive veterans within VA-run nursing homes and community living centers.
  • $2.1 billion for community emergency rooms and urgent care clinics.
  • $606 million for alternative sites of care and the procurement of mobile treatment centers.
  • $100 million is included to increase outreach to veterans and expand 24-hour operations of the crisis response and continuity of operations within VA’s Office of Emergency Management.
  • $2.15 billion is provided to procure information technology equipment and expand bandwidth, as well as other necessary support to address increases in telework, telemedicine, call center volume, and overall demand for services.
  • $12.5 million is included for the Office of Inspector General to exercise oversight of the VA’s effort to prevent, prepare for, and respond to the coronavirus.

Armed Forces Retirement Home

  • $2.8 million is included to support personnel expenses for healthcare, security, and food service, as well as for medical supplies and equipment to care for Armed Forces Retirement Home residents.

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