Today, Vice Chair of the House Democratic Caucus Representative Katherine Clark joined the U.S. House of Representatives in passing an historic $2 trillion emergency stimulus package to help safeguard the health, safety, and economic security of Americans in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Americans are facing a public health crisis that poses an unprecedented threat to the health and safety of our communities. Right now, hospitals are struggling to care for those in need and the pandemic has brought schools, businesses, and entire states, including the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, to a standstill," said Congresswoman Clark. "American families are calling for help. Today, the House of Representatives voted to bring them critical relief and offer them a lifeline. To those on the frontlines of this national emergency, please know that we see you, we appreciate your sacrifice, and we will keep fighting to bring you the help that you need to get through this crisis."
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act includes:
-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 Massachusetts will receive approximately $2.67 billion in desperately needed funds to benefit communities across the Commonwealth. (state-by-state breakdown)
-$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. Massachusetts transit agencies will receive over $1 billion 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, Massachusetts will receive over $60 million. 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. Massachusetts will receive approximately $60 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. Massachusetts will receive nearly $11 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. Massachusetts is projected to receive over $17 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 Massachusetts is nearly $13 million. 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. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is projected to receive over $8 million for these purposes.
This the third bill to pass the House related to the coronavirus pandemic. On March 4, House passed an $8.3 billion emergency aid package to provide for a fully-funded, coordinated, and comprehensive government-wide response to the emerging COVID-19 outbreak. The second bill, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, provides Americans with free coronavirus testing for everyone who needs a test, including the uninsured, expanded paid sick leave, expanded unemployment insurance, food assistance, and other basics resources to support American workers and families.
The bill now waits for the President's signature.