March 27, 2020

Congresswoman Barbara Lee Applauds Passage of Families & Workers-First Coronavirus Legislation and the Emergency Relief it Sends to the East Bay

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Congresswoman Barbara Lee applauded the passage of the CARES Act, which will now go to the President’s desk for his signature. 

“I am proud to support this important bill, which will bring urgently needed relief to families and small businesses all across this country. During this time of stress and uncertainty, everyone needs to know that the government will support them without hesitation. This latest piece of legislation is an essential step in our ongoing effort to act decisively on behalf of the American people and ensure workers and families have the resources they need today and throughout this unprecedented crisis.

“Our frontline health care workers, first responders, food service workers, grocery store workers, and other essential personnel are putting their lives on the line to get us safely through this pandemic – they deserve nothing less than our full-throated support.

“That’s why the coronavirus bill that Senate Republicans put forward this weekend was a non-starter – it put corporations first, not our workers. It gave big corporations billions in taxpayer dollars with no real requirement to protect their workers’ wages and benefits instead of CEO pay, stock buybacks, and layoffs. It failed to provide meaningful support for workers losing their jobs or hours. Thanks to the leadership of Congressional Democrats, the Republican corporations-focused proposal was changed into a package that helps put people over corporations. While not perfect, this is an important step in our ongoing effort to act decisively on behalf of the American people and ensure workers and families have the resources they need today and throughout this unprecedented crisis.

“But it’s clear that more help is urgently needed. Congress must start work on a fourth package that includes relief missing from this bill. That includes ensuring doctors, nurses, and other frontline workers have the personal protective equipment and other supplies they desperately need to save their lives and the lives of their patients; implementing an emergency OSHA standard to protect health care workers and other frontline workers; expanding paid sick and paid family and medical leave to all workers and provide further layoff prevention measures; extending health care coverage at no out-of-pocket cost, protections and assistance to everyone, including immigrant families, people in detention, people with disabilities, people experiencing homelessness, and more; providing additional and continued cash assistance payments for the duration of the crisis; and so much more.

“While the challenge is significant, we can and must do everything in our power to boldly fight this crisis now to put People Over Profits, put Families First, and protect the health and economic security of our nation’s future. Our communities need and deserve a coordinated, fully-funded, whole-of-government response to keep them and their loved ones safe from the coronavirus epidemic. I will continue to work with my colleagues in the House to put Families and Workers First and protect Americans’ health, safety, and economic security.”

Here are just a few of the numerous initiatives in this historic piece of legislation that will benefit the residents of California.

  • 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. It is estimated that our state of California will receive approximately $15.3 billion in desperately needed funds to benefit our state’s residents.
  • $260 Billion in Dramatically Expanded Unemployment Benefits: Includes numerous provisions to improve unemployment benefits including providing an additional $600 per week for the next four weeks, providing an additional 13 weeks of federally funded benefits, and expanding eligibility to include workers in the gig economy and self-employed workers.
  • Immediate Direct Cash Payments to Lower and Middle-Income Americans: Provides for immediate, direct cash payments to lower-and middle-income Americans of $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. These payments will provide individuals with the cash they need right now to survive with much of the economy currently shut down.
  • More Than $375 Billion in Small Business Relief: 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 SBA borrowers; and $10 billion in immediate disaster grants.
  • Approximately $200 Billion for Our Hospitals, Health Care Workers, and Health Research: Provides an investment of about $200 billion in our hospitals, health systems, and health research, including expanding funding for the personal protective equipment desperately needed by our health care workers, including ventilators, n95 masks, gowns, gloves, etc.
  • More Than $100 Billion in Additional Emergency Appropriations, Including the Following:
    • Transit Agencies: Provides $25 billion to transit agencies, which have all seen a drastic drop in revenues as social distancing has been implemented. This funding is to be used to protect the jobs of the employees of the transit agencies, funding their paychecks during this public health emergency. California will receive $3.75 billion under this program.
    • HUD Emergency Solution Grants: Provides $2 billion for HUD Emergency Solution Grants to states that will be distributed by formula. These grants are designed to address the impact of the coronavirus among individuals and families who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, and to support additional homeless assistance, prevention, and eviction prevention assistance. Of this $2 billion, our state will receive $237 million. In addition, the bill provides an additional $2 billion for these grants that will be allocated by HUD to the most hard-pressed areas.
    • Child Care and Development Block Grant: Supports child care and early education by providing $3.5 billion for the Child Care and Development Block Grant. Our state will receive $347 million under this emergency appropriation. 
    • Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP): Provides $900 million to help low-income families pay their heating and cooling bills. Our state will receive $74.9 million for this purpose during this public health emergency.
    • Byrne-Justice Assistance Grant Program: Provides $850 million for this program, giving additional support to state and local law enforcement agencies, thereby allowing them, for example, to obtain the personal protective equipment and other medical items they may need during this public health emergency. Our state will receive $96 million under this appropriation.
    • CDC Coronavirus State, Local and Tribal Grants Minimum Awards: Provides about $750 million in CDC State, Local, and Tribal Grants Minimum Awards to help agencies cope with the public health emergency. The minimum award for our state is $41.8 million. In addition, states can apply for additional funds above their minimum award, based on their needs.
    • Election Assistance:  Provides $400 million for Election Assistance Grants for states to help prepare for the 2020 elections. Coronavirus is already resulting in the postponement of some primaries and this funding can help states make voting safer for individuals. Funding can be used, for example, to increase the ability to vote by mail, expand early voting, and expand online registration. Our state will receive $36.2 million for these purposes.