"In times of challenge and adversity, America responds to support each other. That is what I intend to do today to ensure that American families and workers have the help they need to weather the COVID-19 pandemic.
"In Florida, we are used to the chaos and harm that a hurricane brings. Well, this coronavirus is a monster storm that is wreaking havoc, especially on our most vulnerable neighbors. We must respond in an resolute way.
"This is the third bipartisan emergency aid package and it contains a huge infusion for our hospitals, doctors, nurses and health care workers. God bless them and other workers who are on the front lines, and will be for weeks and months to come. They must have the masks and personal protective equipment to take care of the sick.
"Democrats worked to improve the aid package from one that was too weighted to corporate bailouts, to one that provides much more emergency aid to workers, families and communities. Most people will receive a direct cash assistance to help tide them over.
"If you lost your job or are following the advice of public health experts to stay home, new unemployment assistance is on its way. Please apply. This includes self-employed, tipped employees, independent contractors. In Florida, the governor must help to ensure people can apply and get help right away.
"Billions of dollars also are available to small and medium-sized businesses, nonprofits and churches to weather the storm, keep employees on the payroll, and handle rent, supplies and other bills. If you keep your employees on the payroll and connected to their health benefits, we will help you get through this.
"Finally, demonstrate love and kindness for each other while this urgent public health crisis is upon us. I hope that your family and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds. I trust that the scientists and researchers will speed the treatments and the cures that we need. In the meantime, help is on the way."
Here is some of the help that Castor pressed to bring with dispatch to benefit Floridians:
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 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 $969 million to Florida's 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.
HUD Emergency Solution Grants: Provides $90.7 million for Florida in HUD Emergency Solution Grants 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.
Child Care and Development Block Grant: Supports child care and early education by providing Florida $222 million for the Child Care and Development Block Grant.
Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP): Provides Florida $53.7 million to help low-income families pay their heating and cooling bills.
Byrne-Justice Assistance Grant Program: Florida will receive $51.6 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.
CDC Coronavirus State, Local and Tribal Grants Minimum Awards: Florida will receive approximately $30.3 million in CDC State, Local, and Tribal Grants Minimum Awards to help agencies cope with the public health emergency.
Election Assistance: Provides $400 million for Election Assistance Grants for states to help prepare for the 2020 elections- Florida will receive $20.1 million. 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.