After more than six months, more than 200,000 deaths, and millions of jobs lost, we are still mired in a massive public health and economic crisis. We are living through one of the biggest challenges our nation has ever faced.
Throughout this crisis, Congressman DeFazio has worked tirelessly to get relief to working families, small businesses, our frontline workers, and to promote a strong, inclusive recovery. While Washington has been mired in gridlock in recent months over another COVID relief package, Rep. DeFazio has and will continue to work to break through the gridlock in order to provide robust relief to working families, small businesses, and frontline workers.
Congressman DeFazio knows the enormous strain COVID-19 has put on Oregon’s working families, which is why he helped to pass legislation to help provide these families with critical lifelines. These policies included:
- Economic Impact Payments. Payments of up to $1,200 for individuals and up to $2,400 for married couples, with an additional $500 available per child. Rep. DeFazio continues to work to ensure that those Oregonians who haven’t received their Economic Impact Payments, despite being eligible, get the full funding as soon as possible.
- Enhanced and Expanded Unemployment Insurance (UI) Benefits. At one point, more than 22 million people had lost their job. Legislation that Rep. DeFazio supported provided significant increase in weekly unemployment benefits, extension of the amount of time individuals are able to claim UI, and the creation of an entirely new program to ensure self-employed and “gig” workers are able to access unemployment benefits.
- Homeowner and Renter Protections. With millions faced with the possibility of losing their homes, Rep. DeFazio supported legislation to stop foreclosures and evictions.
- Nutrition Assistance. With far too many families facing increasing food insecurity, Rep. DeFazio worked to ensure there was significant expansion of and increased funding for nutrition assistance programs.
Small businesses are the backbone of our communities. Recognizing the important role Main Street plays in Southwest Oregon’s economy, DeFazio has consistently supported efforts to get funding to small businesses through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).
Rep. DeFazio supported multiple bills that provided more than $600 billion to the PPP and supports efforts to create a second round of funding, expand eligibility, streamline forgiveness, and ensure appropriate oversight to minimize abuse of the program by large corporations.
As Chair of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, Rep. DeFazio was a key negotiator and authored several critical provisions that were enacted, including:
- Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund. Included in the CARES Act is the DeFazio provision to ensure the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund is finally used for its purpose instead of its funds being diverted to other programs. With this fix, the fees are used to maintain our nation’s ports and harbors and allows the Army Corps of Engineers to dredge federal harbors to their constructed widths and depths – at no cost to the taxpayer.
- FEMA Disaster Relief Funds. DeFazio’s legislation provided $45 billion for FEMA’s Disaster Relief Fund (DRF), which due to the devastating wildfire season, is more important than ever.
COVID-19 Testing, Tracing, and Vaccine Development
Legislation that Rep. DeFazio supported also invested billions into COVID-19 research, development, containment, and procurement, including billions for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), $3.5 billion for development of COVID-19 vaccines and therapeutics, and $16 billion for the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) to ensure it can procure needed American made equipment and supplies to prevent supply chain shortages.
Rep. DeFazio also supported provisions that allocated $100 billion to hospitals and healthcare providers in order to cover unreimbursed health care-related expenses to COVID-19.
More Relief is Needed
Millions of Americans are still unemployed. The earlier economic recovery is slowing – and COVID-19 infections and deaths are unfortunately climbing.
Since May, Rep. DeFazio and his colleagues in the House have passed additional relief bills, which contain a variety of essential relief measures to help Americans make ends meet as we work to end the crisis. Unfortunately, Senate Republicans have rejected every one of these bills.
On October 1, 2020, DeFazio voted for and the House passed another relief package, the updated version of the Heroes Act. This bill includes:
- Additional direct payments, cushioning the economic blow of the coronavirus crisis with a more robust second round of economic impact payments of $1,200 per taxpayer and $500 per dependent.
- Strong support for small businesses, by improving the Paycheck Protection Program to serve the smallest businesses and struggling non-profits, providing hard-hit businesses with additional relief, and delivering targeted assistance for the struggling restaurant, brewery, winery and craft distillery industry.
- Restored unemployment benefits, ensuring weekly federal unemployment payments through next January and preventing unemployed workers from exhausting their eligibility, providing a vital safety net for the record number of Americans who are unemployed.
- Funding for coronavirus testing, tracing and treatment, as well as supporting hospitals and providers so they are able to keep their doors open. The updated bill also includes $28 billion for procurement, distribution and education campaigns for a safe and effective vaccine.
- Preservation of health coverage, protecting Americans who have lost their employer-provided health insurance by making unemployed Americans automatically receive the maximum ACA subsidy, as well as a special enrollment period in the ACA exchanges for uninsured Americans.
- Support for housing assistance, helping struggling families afford a safe place to live by providing funding to assist renters and homeowners make monthly rent, mortgage, and utility payments and other housing-related costs – keeping families in their homes.
- Stronger food security provisions, addressing rising hunger with a 15 percent increase to the maximum SNAP benefit and additional funding for nutrition programs that help families put food on the table as well as targeted support for farmers and producers impacted by the crisis.
- More funds to bolster safe education and childcare, with robust funding for education so K-12 schools can upgrade classrooms to reduce the risk of infection and funds to help students access postsecondary education. It also includes funding to support childcare for families so parents can get back to work when able.
- Safeguards for our democracy, with new resources to ensure safe elections, an accurate Census, and preserve the U.S. Postal Service’s operations.
Rep. DeFazio knows that putting working people and families first is how we as a country can get back on our feet. He will continue to prioritize their needs as well as the needs of small business owners over the profits of giant corporations in order to build an economy that works for everyone – not just a wealthy few.
More on COVID-19
Rep. Peter DeFazio (OR-04) today announced a nearly $1.5 million grant, awarded by the Economic Development Administration (EDA), to construct the Ko-Kwel Wellness Center to provide medical and dental services for the Coquille Indian Tribe.
As Chairman of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, which has jurisdiction over the EDA, DeFazio played a leading role in securing this funding in the CARES Act.
Rep. Peter DeFazio today released the following statement after reports that the Oregon Employment Department (OED) may recoup weekly unemployment benefits from up to 40,000 Oregonians because of errors caused by OED’s outdated computer system:
Following the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) announcement of a meager 1.3% cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for Social Security beneficiaries in 2021, Reps. Peter DeFazio (OR-04) and John B. Larson (CT-01) have proposed emergency legislation to increase the 2021 COLA to 3%.
Rep. Peter DeFazio (OR-04) today released the following statement on the House passage of the updated Heroes Act, House Democrats’ COVID-19 relief package:
Today, the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure marked up legislation authored by T&I Chair Peter DeFazio to reduce the financial burdens on states, tribes and local communities after natural disasters, such as wildfires, floods, and hurricanes during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The bill will now get a vote on the floor as part of House Democrats’ updated COVID-19 relief legislation.
Rep. Peter DeFazio, Chair of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, today released the following statement on House Democrats’ latest COVID-19 relief package, introduced Tuesday:
Today, Chair of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Peter DeFazio (D-OR) and Senator Jeff Merkley led Senator Ron Wyden and Representatives Earl Blumenauer (OR-03), Kurt Schrader (OR-05), Greg Walden (OR-02) and Suzanne Bonamici (OR-01) in introducing legislation to increase the Federal cost share of certain Federal disaster assistance provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
Rep. Peter DeFazio (OR-04), Chair of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, today announced he has secured $5 million in emergency relief funding for the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) to start to repair damage caused to Oregon highways from the wildfires that are currently ravaging the state.
Rep. Peter DeFazio (OR-04) today sent a letter to Roseburg VA Health Care System (RVAHCS) Director Keith Allen urging him to engage in more robust communications with community partners, including local Veterans Service Organizations (VSO) and Oregon’s congressional delegation, to keep them informed and engaged on issues facing southwest Oregon’s veteran community, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Rep. Peter DeFazio (OR-04) today announced that he has secured more than $381,000 in coronavirus recovery funding for economic recovery planning efforts in the Albany/Corvallis area.
“The unparalleled economic damage caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately impacted small businesses across Oregon” said Rep. Peter DeFazio. “I’m proud to have secured these funds that will help our community navigate the best way to recover from this unprecedented crisis.”