DeFazio Applauds Passage of Third Coronavirus Relief Package
Rep. Peter DeFazio (OR-04) today applauded the House passage of H.R. 478, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. To watch Rep. DeFazio’s floor speech on the CARES Act, click here.
“While this bill is not perfect, the relief in this package flows to workers first, not last – and it makes clear to any industry getting relief: no stock buybacks, no executive giveaways, no layoffs. Workers first – period,” said DeFazio. “I’m proud to have been a part of the House negotiating team that protected jobs because we know that putting working people and families first is how we as a country can get back on our feet. Prioritizing their needs over the profits of giant corporations is how we build an economy that works for everyone – not just a wealthy few.”
As Chair of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, DeFazio was a key negotiator of the bill and had a role in several provisions, including:
- Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund: The bill includes a provision to unlock the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund and ensure already-collected 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;
- Aviation Worker Protections: The bill includes sufficient funds to ensure airlines and their contractors will fully pay their employees for the next six months. DeFazio ensured that air carriers who receive federal assistance from the CARES Act will cap their CEO and other executive officers’ pay, will not reward departing CEOs with exorbitant “golden parachutes”, and will abstain from share buybacks and stock dividends that enrich Wall Street to the detriment of workers;
- FEMA Disaster Relief Funds: The bill provides $45 billion for FEMA’s Disaster Relief Fund (DRF); and
- Army Corps of Engineers: CARES includes $50 million for the Corps for operation and maintenance related to COVID-19 preparation and prevention.
In addition, the bill includes:
- Immediate Direct Cash Payments to Lower and Middle-Income Americans: Provides for immediate, direct cash payments to working class Americans of $1,200 for each adult and $500 for each child, beginning to phase out at an annual income of $75,000 for individuals. These payments will provide individuals with desperately-needed cash as they grapple with an economy that is largely shut down.
- $260 Billion in Dramatically Expanded Unemployment Benefits: Includes numerous provisions to strengthen 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 as well as part-time and self-employed workers.
- $350 Billion in Small Business Relief: Provides $350 billion in loan forgiveness grants to small businesses and non-profits to maintain their workforces and help them pay for other expenses like rent, mortgage, and utilities.
- 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.
- Over $100 billion for hospitals and healthcare providers: Allocates $100 billion to hospitals and healthcare providers in order to cover unreimbursed health care-related expenses and lost revenues attributable to COVID-19, invests $1.32 billion in supplemental funding for Community Health Centers, and increases Medicare reimbursement for treatment of COVID-19 patients – allowing providers additional revenue to secure the supplies and personal protective equipment they need to protect themselves and their communities.
- Invests billions into COVID-19 research, development, containment, and procurement: Provides $4.3 billion to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), $3.5 billion for development of COVID-19 vaccines and therapeutics, almost $1 billion for COVID-19 research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and $16 billion for the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) to ensure it can procure needed equipment and supplies to prevent supply chain shortages.
- $30.75 billion for an Education Stabilization Fund for states, school districts, and institutions of higher education for COVID-19 costs: Provides $13.5 billion to be distributed to local education agencies to use for coronavirus response activities and $14.25 billion for higher education emergency relief to help defray costs, such as lost revenue, to support social distancing and distance education, and to issue emergency grants to impacted students for food, housing, course materials, tech, and healthcare and childcare.
- Support for America’s Families: The package also provides billions in funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program to help families keep food on the table; billions for childcare programs such as Head Start and the Child Care Development Block Grant, and $900 million for utility assistance through the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program. In addition to bolstering these programs, the legislation helps keep Americans housed through instituting a moratorium on all eviction filings and foreclosures for federally-assisted housing.