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Rep. Castor Statement on House Passage of COVID-19 Emergency Relief


Date: Dec. 21, 2020

"Help is on the way for American families and small businesses as the House just passed a fifth Covid-19 emergency aid bill. The landmark package will provide relief to individuals, small businesses, schools and hospitals - and a bridge to a day when the coronavirus vaccine is widely administered. Workers and families have been hurting for months and the bill will provide assistance for day-to-day realities like paying rent, taking care of children, and putting food on the table. This bill will take immediate steps to help.

"While our communities have been grappling with the ongoing health and economic crises tied to the COVID-19 pandemic, I pressed for swift action and voted in May for emergency aid in the Heroes Act. Nevertheless, despite the delay, this aid package will provide a vital lifeline for many.

"House Democrats fought for the inclusion of a second direct cash payments of $600 to many adults and children, averted the sudden expiration of Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits for millions and added a $300 per week UI enhancement for Americans out of work. This legislation includes over $280 billion in Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans, including funds that will be targeted for underserved communities, nonprofits, and the mom and pops shops we know and love here in Tampa. Many have shared that PPP has been a critical lifeline throughout the pandemic, and I'm confident that this infusion of new funds will be a shot in the arm to additional small business owners here in our community in the days ahead.

"We all have seen that hope is on the horizon with the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, and Democrats pushed to ensure over $73 billion in public health investments to keep the foot on the gas and support the free, safe and equitable vaccine distribution that is necessary to crush the virus. The virus has had a disproportionate impact on communities of color, and $2.5 billion is allocated to expand access to testing and contract tracing in high-risk and underserved populations in the days ahead.

"While the bill meets many needs of working Americans, there is far more to be done to meet the ongoing health and economic crises facing our nation. President-elect Biden has made clear his commitment to crushing the virus, listening to public health experts, and getting money into the pockets of the American people, and I will work with his administration from day 1 to bring this crisis to an end."

The $900 billion in emergency coronavirus relief to protect the lives and livelihoods of the American people includes:

Public Health Investments to Crush COVID-19 including:
· Invests $22.4 billion in testing, contact tracing, surveillance, containment, and mitigation, with a targeted investment of no less than $2.5 billion for expanding access to testing and contact tracing in high-risk and underserved populations, including for communities of color and rural areas.

· Dedicates over $19 billion in the nation's supply of COVID-19 vaccines and therapeutics, including the manufacture, production, and purchase of vaccines, therapeutics, and ancillary supplies.

· Supplies $8.75 billion for vaccine distribution, administration, planning, preparation, promotion, monitoring, and tracking, with a targeted investment of $300 million for high-risk and underserved populations, including for communities of color and rural areas.

Strong support for small business: Democrats secured critical funding to help small businesses, including minority-owned businesses, and nonprofits recover from the pandemic.
The agreement includes over $284 billion for first and second forgivable PPP loans, expanded PPP eligibility for nonprofits and local newspapers, TV and radio broadcasters, key
modifications to PPP to serve the smallest businesses including mom & pop shops and struggling non-profits and better assist independent restaurants

$15 billion in dedicated funding for live venues, independent movie theaters, and cultural institutions.
The agreement also includes $20 billion for targeted EIDL Grants which are critical to many smaller businesses on Main Street.
Enhanced Unemployment Insurance benefits: Democrats averted the sudden expiration of Unemployment Insurance benefits for millions and added a $300 per week UI enhancement for Americans out of work.
Education and child care: The agreement provides $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.
Transparency in State Data Reporting: States must submit their testing and tracing plans any updates to the Department of Health and Human Services no later than 60 days after funds have been awarded, and every quarter they must report to HHS the use of funding and HHS shall make the plans publicly available.
Rental assistance: Democrats secured $25 billion in critically needed rental assistance for families struggling to stay in their homes and an extension of the eviction moratorium until January 31, 2021.

Direct payment checks: Democrats secured a new round of direct payments worth up to $600 per adult and child, also ensuring that mixed-status families receive payments.
Community Development Financial Institutions and Minority Depository Institutions: The agreement includes dedicated PPP set-asides for very small businesses and lending through community-based lenders like Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) and Minority Depository Institutions (MDIs); $9 billion in emergency U.S. Treasury capital investments in CDFIs and MDIs to support lending in low-income and underserved communities, including persistent poverty counties, that may be disproportionately impacted by the economic effects of the COVID--19 pandemic; and $3 billion in emergency support for CDFIs through the CDFI Fund to respond to the economic impact of the pandemic on underserved low-income and minority communities.
Strengthens the Low Income Housing Tax Credit: The package enhances the LIHTC to help increase affordable housing construction and provide greater certainty to new and ongoing affordable housing projects.
Strengthened Earned Income Tax Credit & Child Tax Credit: The agreement helps ensure that families who faced unemployment or reduced wages during the pandemic are able to receive a strong tax credit based on their 2019 income, preserving these vital income supports for vulnerable families.
Supports paid sick leave: The agreement provides a tax credit to support employers offering paid sick leave, based on the Families First framework.
Employee Retention Tax Credit: The agreement extends and improves the Employee Retention Tax Credit to help keep workers in the jobs during coronavirus closures or reduced revenue.
Nutrition assistance for hungry families: Democrats secured $13 billion in increased SNAP and child nutrition benefits to help relieve the historic hunger crisis that has left up to 17 million children food insecure.
Global Health: Democrats secured an additional $3.36 billion for a total of $4 billion for GAVI, the international vaccine alliance, recognizing that we are not truly safe until the whole world is safe from the coronavirus.