DeFazio Statement on House Democrats’ Latest COVID-19 Relief Package
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:
“After more than six months, 200,000 deaths, and millions of jobs lost, we are still mired in a massive public health and economic crisis—yet congressional Republicans and President Trump continue to play politics and downplay the severity of this ongoing crisis. Since May, Senate Republicans have blocked the Heroes Act, comprehensive relief legislation passed by House Democrats that would have met the scale of this crisis by preventing deaths, protecting jobs, and keeping small businesses open.
“Tragically, workers, families, and business owners across Oregon are the ones suffering from the consequences of President Trump’s and congressional Republicans’ indifference to their plight. Congress must step up with measures, like this new legislation, that help blunt the worst of this pandemic’s effects, from making sure frontline workers have PPE, to expanding COVID-19 testing resources for all Americans, to protecting small businesses and ensuring that more workers aren’t forced into the unemployment lines.”
As Chair, DeFazio authored several provisions of the bill, including:
- An extension of the successful Payroll Support Program, which was created in the CARES Act, to prevent layoffs of airline industry workers. The funds authorized by this legislation are to be used for the sole purpose of paying workers and keeping them employed. Additionally, the legislation extends the CARES Act’s strong conditions on these grants, including a prohibition on any involuntary furloughs of workers through March 31, 2021 and a cap on executive compensation through October 1, 2022. It also requires contractors that laid off workers in the spring to make good-faith efforts to rehire them.
- An increase to the Federal share of FEMA assistance for COVID-19-related emergencies and major disasters to 100 percent. In addition, this provision adjusts the floor for the Federal share of FEMA assistance from 75 percent to not less than 90 percent for any emergencies and major disasters declared pursuant to the Stafford Act in 2020—including Oregon’s recent catastrophic wildfires.
In addition, the package includes:
- 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 second loans, and delivering targeted assistance for the struggling restaurant industry and independent live venue operators.
- Additional direct payments of $1,200 per taxpayer and $500 per dependent;
- Restored unemployment benefits, ensuring weekly $600 federal unemployment payments through next January and preventing unemployed workers from exhausting their eligibility.
- More funds to bolster education and childcare, with $225 billion for education – including $182 billion for K-12 schools and nearly $39 billion for postsecondary education – and $57 billion to support child care for families.
- $436 billion to provide one year’s worth of assistance to state, local, territorial and tribal governments who desperately need funds to pay vital workers like first responders and health workers;
- $75 billion for coronavirus testing, contact tracing and isolation measures, ensuring every American can access free coronavirus treatment, and supporting hospitals and providers. The updated bill also includes $28 billion for procurement, distribution and education campaigns for a safe and effective vaccine;
- Protections for Americans losing their employer-provided health insurance, by allowing unemployed Americans to automatically receive the maximum Affordable Care Act (ACA) subsidy on the health insurance exchanges. The bill also provides for a special enrollment period in the ACA exchanges for uninsured Americans;
- New resources to ensure safe elections, an accurate Census, and preserve the Postal Service.