Friday, Representative Derek Kilmer (WA-06) applauded the passage of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act or the CARES Act to provide immediate relief to workers and families, while bolstering America’s medical response to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
“Across our region and our entire country, the coronavirus is putting extraordinary strain on our healthcare system, our economy, and on families. It’s important that the federal government is taking bold and urgent action to protect the health, safety and economic well-being of the American people,” said Rep. Kilmer. “I fought for a number of elements in this bill that will help ensure Washington’s families, students, employers, health care providers, and communities have the resources and assistance they need in these difficult times.”
The legislation included a number of provisions championed by Rep. Kilmer to address Washington state’s growing economic challenges, including provisions Rep. Kilmer called for in a bipartisan letter he led from the Washington congressional delegation. He urged congressional leadership to expand access to economic assistance, provide direct assistance to individuals, and provide substantial funding for programs to mitigate the economic challenges created by this crisis and rebuild impacted industries.
The bill also included the Keeping American Workers Paid and Employed Act, a small business emergency economic relief plan for which Rep. Kilmer advocated. That proposal provides more than $375 billion in small business relief, including $349 billion for forgivable loans to small businesses to pay their employees and keep them on the payroll, $17 billion for debt relief for current and new Small Business Administration borrowers, and $10 billion in immediate disaster grants.
In addition, the bill expands the Unemployment Insurance program to help those who have lost their jobs or are experiencing reduced incomes by including an additional $600 per week for the next four months, adding an additional 13 weeks of federally funded benefits, and allowing part-time, self-employed, and gig economy workers to access these benefits. The bill also authorizes direct cash payments to lower and middle-income Americans, including up to $1,200 for each adult and $500 for each child.
“People shouldn’t have to worry about facing foreclosure or eviction through no fault of their own. This bill takes steps to address that. College students shouldn’t have to face additional debt because of circumstances they couldn’t control. This bill takes steps to address that. Doctors and nurses and other health care professionals shouldn’t have to be on the frontlines of combatting this virus without the personal protective equipment they need to be safe. This bill takes steps to address that. And small businesses and workers who have been rocked by the massive disruption caused by this virus shouldn’t have to worry about paying the bills. And this bill takes steps to address that too,” said Rep. Kilmer. “It’s not perfect legislation. I haven’t found much in DC that has qualified as perfect. But this bill undeniably takes important steps to address real problems folks are facing. That’s why I support it.”
The bill included additional provisions aimed at protecting the health and well-being of the American people:
- For fighting the coronavirus: a $150 billion investment for America’s health care system to fight against the pandemic. This includes new funding for personal and protective equipment (PPE) for health care workers, testing supplies, increased workforce and training, and new funding dedicated to delivering Medicare payment increases to all hospitals and providers to ensure that they receive the funding they need during this crisis.
- For American workers: provides immediate direct cash payments to lower and middle-income Americans to provide individuals with the cash they need right now with much of the economy currently shut down. The bill provides up to $1,200 for each adult and $500 for each child, beginning to phase out at an annual income of $75,000 for an individual and $150,000 for a household.
- For State, Tribal, and local governments: a $150 billion investment to help States, Tribes, and local governments that need to pay for new expenses related to the COVID-19 response. This includes $8 billion for Tribal governments.
- For students: more than $30 billion in emergency education funding, deferred student loan payments, principal, and interest for 6 months for all federally owned loans, and the elimination of income tax on student loan repayment assistance by an employer.
- For affordable housing and homelessness: more than $12 billion invested in programs to help low-income and working class Americans cover basic living expenses without worrying about facing an eviction during this crisis. This funding will also support critical homelessness assistance programs to aid those who do not currently have safe living conditions to shelter in place.
This is the third COVID-19 emergency response package passed by Congress and supported by Rep. Kilmer. The legislation now goes to the President to be signed into law.
On March 14, Rep. Kilmer voted to support the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, comprehensive legislation aimed at bolstering the federal government’s response to the coronavirus outbreak and addressing the severe impacts of the coronavirus on Americans’ personal safety and financial security. In addition to including a bipartisan measure led by Rep. Kilmer to provide disaster unemployment assistance to people who are unable to work due to the current coronavirus outbreak, the legislation provided paid leave, established free coronavirus testing, expanded food assistance for vulnerable children and families, protected frontline health workers, and provided additional funding to states for the ongoing economic consequences of the pandemic, among other provisions.
On March 4, Rep. Kilmer voted to support the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act, which provided $8.3 billion in new funding to establish an initial robust response to this public health emergency. The legislation included $950 million for state and local health agencies to conduct vital public health activities, including surveillance, laboratory testing, infection control, contact tracing, and mitigation. It also included a provision championed by Rep. Kilmer to allow up to $7 billion in loan subsidies to be made available to help small businesses, including shellfish growers, trade-dependent manufacturers, and others that have been impacted by financial losses as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.