“The coronavirus pandemic demands urgent action to bolster our health care response, support small businesses, working Americans and families, stabilize our economy and equip state, local and tribal governments with the resources to respond to this public health crisis. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act takes meaningful steps to address these needs.
Unfortunately, more than 1,000 Americans including at least 12 Wisconsinites have lost their lives to the coronavirus so far. And with cases increasing in Wisconsin and elsewhere, now is not the time to let up. Testing is still not widely available and our frontline responders, including police firefighters, doctors, nurses and other health care providers continue to express concerns about shortages of personal protective equipment and other needed medical supplies.
The CARES Act supports the selfless Americans on the frontlines of the crisis: health care workers. This legislation helps address the needs of our health care workers and hospitals, who desperately need protective medical equipment including masks, gowns and gloves to keep themselves and others safe. State, local and tribal governments are also on the frontlines of the pandemic and will receive supplemental federal appropriations to mitigate soaring expenses such as increased spending on public health and Medicaid.
The public health measures we are enacting to respond to the outbreak and slow its spread are causing severe economic disruptions with damaging effects that are reverberating through our society. In Wisconsin, more than 135,000 people have filed for unemployment in a span of less than two weeks. Nationwide, initial unemployment claims soared to nearly 3.3 million. I am proud that Senate and House Democrats fought hard to secure expanded unemployment benefits to help workers whose lives have been upended from businesses laying off or furloughing workers. My Democratic colleagues steered negotiations with Republicans to put forward legislation that puts working people first rather than corporations.
While this legislation puts money in the pockets of Americans, many of whom struggling to make ends meet, a one-time payment falls short of what so many Americans need to weather the coronavirus crisis and economic downturn. I will continue to advocate for monthly cash distribution until this public health emergency is over. I am also keenly focused on advancing additional federal legislation that will provide assistance with out-of-pocket costs related to COVID treatment and assistance for individuals who lose coverage with the loss of a job.
I am grateful that this bill secure substantial funding for Community Development Block Grants (CDCG) that will help states and counties can expand food banks, childcare facilities and other program centers critical to meeting the needs of communities during the pandemic. This legislation also guarantees rental assistance protections for low-income Americans and enhances health housing initiatives for homeless individuals and families. These provisions will lead to crucial support to mitigate the adverse impacts of the pandemic on working Americans and housing insecure individuals. The bill provides a 4-month moratorium on evictions for four months to protect renters who are unable to pay their rent. These efforts will provide more stability to Americans facing economic and housing disruption.
I support this legislation but also recognize that more work needs to be done. I am committed to building upon these efforts with my colleagues.”
Key funding provisions
The CARES Act Secures Funding to Support Health Care Workers and Hospitals, Small Businesses, Workers and Families, including:
- 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 individuals and $150,000 for married couples.
- $260 Billion in Dramatically Expanded Unemployment Benefits: Includes several 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 gig workers and self-employed workers.
- 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.
- $3 billion Rental Assistance Protections: Provides $3 billion is included for housing providers to help more than 4.5 million low-income households made up of more than 9.6 million individuals currently assisted by HUD. This includes $1.935 billion to allow public housing agencies (PHAs) to keep over 3.2 million Section 8 voucher and public housing households stably housed and $1 billion to allow the continuation of housing assistance contracts with private landlords for over 1.2 million Project-Based Section 8 households.
- $4 billion Emergency Homeless Assistance: Provides $4 billion in emergency homeless assistance to enable state and local governments to finance housing and health related services for the hundreds of thousands of people currently experiencing homelessness or at risk of homelessness, and to support additional homeless assistance, prevention, and eviction prevention assistance.
Additionally, the CARES Act Provides More Than $100 Billion in Additional Emergency Funding:
- 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 Wisconsin is $11,334,000.
- Transit Agencies: Provides $25 billion to transit agencies. 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 as revenues have dropped. Wisconsin will receive $204,657,948 under this program.
- Child Care and Development Block Grant: Supports childcare and early education by providing $3.5 billion for the Child Care and Development Block Grant. Wisconsin will receive $51,259,316 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. Wisconsin will receive $8,007,000 for this purpose during this public health emergency.