Friday morning, lawmakers passed the $2.2 trillion rescue package for virus-ravaged U.S. economy and health system, rushing it to President Donald Trump for his signature.
Via a voice vote, the House approved the measure – with majorities of both parties supporting the largest economic relief bill in the nation’s history.
Once signed by the President, the bill will send payments of up to $1,200 to millions of Americans, shore up unemployment benefits, offer loans, grants and tax breaks to large and small businesses, as well as ship billions more to states, local governments and the nation’s overwhelmed health care system.
Area lawmakers reacted to the passage, below are their statements:
***Congresswoman Escobar Votes for the Bipartisan Families First Coronavirus Response Act
Today, Congresswoman Veronica Escobar (TX-16) voted for the third coronavirus response bill, the bipartisan H.R. 748, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
The CARES Act, which will now go to President Trump’s desk for his signature, secures critical provisions for El Paso workers and their families and invests $2 trillion to help our public health systems, state and local governments, and small businesses in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.
“I am proud to support this historic piece of legislation to protect the lives and livelihoods of El Pasoans during this health and economic crisis,” said Congresswoman Escobar. “Our families, businesses, students, veterans, and health care workers urgently need relief, and as their voice in Congress, I am determined to ensure they receive the coordinated and fully-funded government response they deserve.
“Last week, Republicans put forward a non-starter, corporations-focused proposal. Today, thanks to Democrats’ relentless work, we continue to deliver critical legislation to protect the health and well-being of hard-working families in El Paso and across the country.”
Below are some of the major components Congresswoman Escobar and Democrats in Congress fought to include after a series of calls with the El Paso community:
Congresswoman Escobar and her colleagues secured a $260 billion massive investment in the Unemployment Insurance program as well as critical reforms to make the program more effective for El Paso workers. This includes numerous provisions to improve 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 and self-employed workers.
Marshall Plan for Our Health System:
This legislation secures an unprecedented and historic investment for our health care system in its fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. The almost $200 billion fund is widely available to hospitals and health care workers most affected by COVID-19, and it will be available to fund whatever is needed to defeat this virus. This includes equipment, infrastructure, and enhanced health investments in our country’s Strategic National Stockpile, surge capacity and medical research into COVID-19.
Small Business Rescue Plan:
Congresswoman Escobar and her colleagues secured $377 billion to rescue small businesses in El Paso and across the country. The funds include $350 billion in loan forgiveness grants to small businesses and non-profits to maintain existing workforce and help pay for other expenses like rent, mortgage, and utilities, $10 billion for SBA emergency grants of up to $10,000 to provide immediate relief for small business operating costs, and $17 billion for SBA to cover 6 months of payments for small businesses with existing SBA loans.
Increased Direct Payments to Working Americans:
Congresswoman Escobar and her colleagues fought to double cash payments to hard-working El Paso families from $600 to $1,200 with an additional $500 cash payment is available per child. The full payment will be available for individuals making up to $75,000 (individual) and $150,000 (married). These payments will provide individuals with the cash they need right now to survive with much of the economy currently shut down.
State and Local Coronavirus Expenditures Fund:
To assist States, Tribes, and local governments that must pay for new expenses related to COVID-19 response, the CARES Act offers $150 billion to states, with $8 billion set aside for tribal governments. Based on population, Texas is estimated to receive $11.2 billion to contain and treat the coronavirus and respond to the El Pasoans’ needs during this public health crisis.
Student Loan Relief:
To alleviate the pressure of student loan costs during this crisis, Congresswoman Escobar and her colleagues fought for the inclusion of tax relief encouraging employers to implement student loan repayment programs. This provision will exclude up to $5,250 in qualifying student loan repayments paid by the employer on behalf of the employee from income for income tax purposes.
Robust Worker and Transparency Protections on Government Loans:
Congresswoman Escobar and her colleagues fought to add tough new requirements to government loans lent to companies. These requirements were not included in the Republican-proposed bill and include no stock buy backs, no increases to executive compensation, protection of bargaining rights, and a secured a prohibition on any Trump Organization business or any business controlled by other government leaders receiving a loan from this bill, among others.
Hurd Statement on House Passage of Bipartisan CARES Act
WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Representative Will Hurd (TX-23), joined his colleagues today in supporting passage of the bipartisan Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. This bill will help American families, health care workers, small businesses and the entire economy, and it builds upon two other aid packages passed by Congress to combat the ongoing public health crisis.
“The American people can and will survive this pandemic, and the resources coming out of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act will help ensure that’s the case. This crisis has affected every single person in our American family—from those with health challenges, to our loved ones and colleagues, to those worried about where their next meal might come from, to the incredible health care professionals who face this danger head-on as others seek sanctuary. Today, we take the critical step of passing the CARES Act.
“The measures in the CARES Act will not end all suffering, but they will ensure those who are unemployed will have more resources to make it through this difficult situation, our health care centers and workers will have more support, small businesses will have opportunities to receive help from the government, researchers will have more funding to aid in the search for a cure or vaccine and it will provide a boost to our economy so, in due time, it can bounce-back.
“I’m counting on the American spirit. I’m counting on American ingenuity. You should too. We can, and we will, make it through this.”
Provisions in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act include:
Aid for families and individuals:
- Individuals will receive $1,200 in the form of a one-time direct deposit, $2,400 for couples and $500 per child. The payments will be phased out based on income levels.
- An additional $600 per week for the next four months will be provided to unemployed workers on top of state benefits.
- $19.6 billion for veterans, including in-patient and telehealth.
- $3.5 billion for child care services.
- $7.4 billion for homeless and assisted housing programs.
- $25.1 billion for nutritional assistance for seniors, women, children, American Indians, and low-income families.
Relief for small businesses:
- The Small Business Administration (SBA) authorizes $349 billion in additional 7(1) loans. Businesses with 500 or fewer employees are eligible. Loan forgiveness is available for payroll and debt obligations.
- $562 million for SBA to provide economic injury disaster loans.
- $1.5 billion for Economic Adjustment Assistance to provide small businesses with capital.
Boosts for health care:
- $100 billion for hospitals and health care providers.
- $27 billion to research better testing and treatment, and purchasing medical supplies and personal protective equipment.
- $16 billion for Strategic National Stockpile to procure personal protective equipment, ventilators and other medical supplies for federal and state response effort.
- $4.3 billion for the Center for Disease Control.
- $1 billion for the National Institute of Health’s vaccine research.
- $4.6 billion for health care, community support, nutrition and mental health services.