Congressman Gonzalez Helps Secure Critical Funds in Coronavirus Relief Bill
On Sunday evening, President Trump signed the bipartisan coronavirus compromise relief bill into law. Congressman Vicente Gonzalez (TX-15) fought for funds to support vaccine distribution, maintain unemployment insurance, expand broadband access, and assist education institutions in Central and South Texas.
"Our most important job as members of Congress is to make sure that we take care of the American people. $600 is not enough and this new law lacks funding for state and local governments which will impact how we pay salaries for our law enforcement officers, teachers and frontline workers," said Congressman Gonzalez. "While far from perfect, this bipartisan agreement does give working families and small businesses a small lifeline. We owe it to our frontline workers and all of those impacted by the coronavirus to get this right. I look forward to working with the incoming Biden-Harris administration to deliver more relief to the American people."
The agreement includes:
Acceleration of vaccine distribution and combating the coronavirus: $69 billion in critically needed funding for COVID-19 testing, contact tracing, vaccines, mental health, and support for health care providers. Included in this funding is $22 billion for testing, contact tracing, surveillance and mitigation, $19 billion for vaccines and therapeutics, including the manufacture, production, and purchase of vaccines, therapeutics and ancillary supplies, and nearly $9 billion in additional funding to support distribution of lifesaving COVID-19 vaccines that will help bring an end to the pandemic.
Education and childcare: 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. Texas is estimated to receive a total of $7,555,750 in funds composed of the Governor's Education Emergency Fund, Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Fund and the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund.
Delivers More Affordable Broadband Access: The agreement invests $7 billion to increase access to broadband, including a new Emergency Broadband Benefit to help South and Central Texas students, families and unemployed workers afford the broadband they need during the pandemic. This includes expanded access for rural communities, with more than $730 million in the expansion of broadband service to provide economic development opportunities and improved education and health care services.
Direct payment checks: Congressman Gonzalez was instrumental in securing a new round of direct payments worth up to $600 per adult and child, also ensuring that mixed-status families receive payments.
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.
Enhanced Unemployment Insurance benefits: Added a $300 per week UI enhancement for Americans out of work.
Rental assistance: $25 billion in critically needed rental assistance for families struggling to stay in their homes and an extension of the eviction moratorium.
Strong Support for Small Businesses: The agreement includes over $284 billion for first and second forgivable Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans, dedicates set-asides for very small businesses and lending through community-based lenders like Community Development Finance Institutions and Minority Depository Institutions, key modifications to PPP to serve the smallest businesses and struggling non-profits and better assist independent restaurants, $15 billion in dedicated funding for live venues, independent movie theaters, and cultural institutions and $20 billion for targeted Economic Injury Disaster Loan Grants which are critical to many smaller businesses on Main Street.