Larson: COVID Relief Package is a Step Forward, but More is Urgently Needed
Washington, D.C. - Today, Rep. John B. Larson (CT-01) voted for the bipartisan COVID relief package and released the following statement:
“This relief package, while a step forward, should have been passed months ago. House Democrats first passed the Heroes Act in May; at the same time, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called for a ‘pause’ and Senate Republicans refused to act until now. More than 315,000 Americans have died from COVID-19. Experts have said if we had made a larger investment in testing and tracing, many of these deaths could have been prevented. Millions of Americans are unemployed and many are facing food insecurity. Our state and local governments, including first responders, have been on the frontlines of this pandemic but are being left out of this relief package. We can and we must do more.
“As I have said before, we cannot get the economy up and running until we conquer the virus. Today’s relief package makes significant investments in, testing and tracing efforts, vaccines and therapeutics, medical supplies and funding for underserved communities, all of which are critical to conquering this pandemic.
“This package provides help for the millions of Americans who are struggling right now. It strengthens critical programs for those who are unemployed by extending and enhancing unemployment insurance and rental assistance. It also offers $600 in direct payments to low and moderate income Americans and includes a $13 billion increase in food assistance programs to help the millions of families facing food insecurity.
“This bill also includes vital funding for small businesses, including specific funding for arts and cultural programs and smaller businesses who weren’t able to access the initial relief funding.”
To Stop the Virus and Treat Patients with COVID, the bill includes:
- Almost $23 billion for vaccines, therapeutics, diagnostics and supplies;
- More than $22 billion for testing, tracing, and containment to stop the virus from spreading;
- Additional $3 billion for hospitals, community health centers, physicians and other providers to test, treat and care for COVID patients; and
- $22 billion to help underserved communities tackle this health crisis.
To Help those hurt by COVID’s Impact on the Economy, the bill provides:
- Extension of federal unemployment benefits, including benefits for self employed workers, until March 14th and adds $300/week in unemployment benefits;
- Up to $600 per adult and child in direct payments to low and moderate income Americans;
- Additional $25 billion in rental and utility assistance and an extension the eviction mortarium through January 31;
- An additional $13 billion in food assistance programs;
- Additional $284 billion for a second round of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), including expanded eligibility for nonprofits, hospitals, local media outlets, and modifications to help restaurants, arts and cultural programs, live venues and other small businesses;
- Additional $20 billion for Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) to help smaller businesses;
- Additional $3.5 billion to resume debt relief payments of principal and interest on small business loans guaranteed by SBA;
- An extension of credit for employers who provide paid family and medical leave as well as a tax credit for employers who offer paid sick leave;
- Extension and expansion of the Employee Retention Tax Credit to help employers keep employees on the job during COVID closures or reduced revenue;
- $10 Billion assistance for child care and child care providers; and,
- Over $700 million for Connecticut K-12 schools and higher education institutions.