Saturday, May 16, 2020

Huffman Cites 'Historic Crisis' Explaining $3 Trillion Stimulus Vote

Posted By on Sat, May 16, 2020 at 6:39 AM

click to enlarge Jared Huffman. - CONGRESS
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  • Jared Huffman.
North Coast Rep. Jared Huffman joined 207 of his congressional colleagues yesterday in voting to approve the HEROES Act, a $3 trillion COVID-19 stimulus bill.

“America is facing a historic crisis," Huffman said in a press release after voting for the bill, which comes after the $2 trillion CARES Act that Congress passed in late March. "We are months into this pandemic, and still have not seen an adequate, coherent response from the administration that meets the urgency of the threat gripping the nation. Today we passed a bill that better reflects the priorities of the Democratic Caucus and our sense of what we need to do to meet this extraordinary challenge."

The massive 1,800-page bill, officially titled the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act, would provide another round of $1,200 stimulus checks to most Americans, give essential workers a raise and increased health insurance coverage, extend the $600 per week federal expansion of unemployment benefits through the end of the year, revamp the Paycheck Protection Program to be more inclusive and give businesses more flexibility and create a $100 billion emergency rental assistance program. It would also pump roughly $1 trillion in financial aid to state and local governments and invest $75 billion in COVID-19 testing. It also would provide $100 million in fisheries relief.

The legislation is expected to face heavy opposition in the Republican controlled Senate, where Maj. Leader Mitch McConnell has already called it a "big laundry list of priorities" that has "no chance of becoming law."

"We aren’t waiting to please Mitch McConnell or Trump-minded officials," Huffman said in the press release. "The American people need immediate help, and I want them to know we hear them and are going to fight for their needs. This bill doesn’t include everything I want to see, but it is about keeping the lights on in state and local governments and hospitals — giving lifeline support for folks that desperately need it. This crisis isn’t going away any time soon. It requires unprecedented federal response, and Congress has a responsibility to ensure families, small businesses, and states and cities have the relief they need to weather the long road ahead.”

Meanwhile, the Times-Standard reports that $28.8 million in funding available through the CARES Act has been allocated to North Coast health care providers. Included in that is $23.8 million for St. Joseph Health Northern California LLC, which includes St. Joseph and Redwood Memorial hospitals, as well as Santa Rosa Memorial and Queen of the Valley Medical Center. Local Brius-owned skilled nursing homes received another $1 million, according to the story, with Hospice of Humboldt taking home $500,000.

See the full release from Huffman's office copied below:

Huffman Votes to Pass Heroes Act, Send Critical Relief to Second District

Legislation Invests in States and Local Governments, Increases Testing, Supports Frontline Workers

San Rafael, CA – Today, Representative Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael) voted to pass the Heroes Act, House Democrats’ latest legislation to address the continued public health crisis and provide desperately needed support for struggling families and essential workers, with funds for testing and tracing measures, key support for frontline workers, relief for Tribes and fisheries, and strengthened assistance for the American people.

“America is facing a historic crisis. We are months into this pandemic, and still have not seen an adequate, coherent response from the administration that meets the urgency of the threat gripping the nation,” said Rep. Huffman. “Today we passed a bill that better reflects the priorities of the Democratic Caucus and our sense of what we need to do to meet this extraordinary challenge. We aren’t waiting to please Mitch McConnell or Trump-minded officials. The American people need immediate help, and I want them to know we hear them and are going to fight for their needs. This bill doesn’t include everything I want to see, but it is about keeping the lights on in state and local governments and hospitals – giving lifeline support for folks that desperately need it. This crisis isn’t going away any time soon. It requires unprecedented federal response, and Congress has a responsibility to ensure families, small businesses, and states and cities have the relief they need to weather the long road ahead.”

The Heroes Act provides the California government and local communities on the frontlines of this crisis with robust, desperately needed funding to cover coronavirus-related outlays and revenue loss and pay our health care workers, police, fire, transportation, EMS, teachers, and other vital workers who keep us safe and are in danger of losing their jobs. Additionally, the bill commits another $75 billion for the testing, tracing and treatment needed in order to have a science-based path to safely reopen our country and helping ensure that every American can access free coronavirus treatment.

An analysis prepared by the Congressional Research Service estimates that the Heroes Act will provide over $47.4 billion in state funding for the people of California over two years in addition to over $872 million in urgently needed funding for communities in California’s Second Congressional District.

Congressman Huffman successfully advocated for several key provisions that were included in the final bill text, including:

HONORING OUR HEROES – CRITICAL AID TO STATE, LOCAL, TERRITORIAL AND TRIBAL GOVERNMENTS

Honoring Our Heroes: Provides nearly $1 trillion to state, local, territorial and tribal governments who desperately need funds to pay vital workers like the health care workers, police, firefighters, transportation workers, EMS, teachers and other critical workers. Representative Huffman has sent several letters advocating for this funding including a letter he sent to the Treasury Department with Rep. Mike Thompson (CA-05) requesting funding for states and localities with populations lower than 500,000.
TESTING, TRACING AND TREATMENT

An Additional $75 Billion for Coronavirus Testing, Contact Tracing and Isolation Measures: This bill provides an additional $75 billion to public health departments and workforce agencies to support testing, contact tracing, and isolation or quarantine – a top priority for Representative Huffman. The bill provides that grants will consider a grantee’s burden of COVID-19, need for surge mitigation, and intention to serve populations experiencing disparities in impact or access to services. In early May, Rep. Huffman led a letter urging House leadership to mobilize Service Corps and Peace Corps volunteers to support contact tracing and has cosponsored multiple bills to increase testing capacity.
SUPPORTS SMALL BUSINESSES AND NONPROFITS

Strengthening the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) to ensure that it reaches underserved communities.
Strengthening the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) to Ensure That It Reaches Nonprofits of All Sizes and Types.
Making Improvements to PPP Loan Forgiveness: The bill makes improvements to PPP Loan Forgiveness, by for example adding flexibility in the covered period for borrowers by extending the current 8-week period to 24 weeks and extending the covered period from June 30 to December 31.
Supporting Small Businesses By Providing $10 Billion for COVID-19 emergency grants through SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program.
EXTENDS UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS

Extending Weekly $600 Federal Unemployment Payments Through January 31, 2021: The bill extends weekly $600 federal unemployment payments through January 31, 2021, thereby providing a vital safety net for the record number of Americans who are unemployed.
HOUSING ASSISTANCE

Creating a $100 Billion Emergency Rental Assistance Program, To Help Ensure Struggling Families Continue to Have A Safe Place to Live During this Pandemic: The bill creates a $100 billion Emergency Rental Assistance Program that would allocate funds to states, territories, counties, and cities to help renters pay their rent and utility bills during the COVID-19 pandemic, and help rental property owners of all sizes continue to cover their costs – a provision that Rep. Huffman advocated for through both letters and legislation.
Creating A $75 Billion Homeowner Assistance Program, To Help Homeowners Struggling to Afford Their Housing As A Result of the Pandemic: The bill also creates a $75 billion Homeowner Assistance Fund that would allocate funds to states, territories, and tribes to address the ongoing needs of homeowners struggling to afford their housing due directly or indirectly to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic by providing direct assistance with mortgage payments, property taxes, property insurance, utilities, and other housing related costs.
Protecting Renters and Homeowners from Evictions and Foreclosures: The bill extends and expands the eviction moratorium and foreclosure moratorium in the CARES Act to include all renters and homeowners and improves the forbearance provided under the CARES Act.
FOOD SECURITY:

Making Key Investments in Food Security: In response to rising hunger, the bill makes a number of key improvements to SNAP, nutrition, and food assistance, including:
· Boosts SNAP maximum benefits by 15 percent (through September 30, 2021)

· Nearly doubles the minimum monthly SNAP benefit from $16 to $30;

· Prevents funding to be used for USDA to implement the Administration’s three harmful SNAP rules that weaken benefits and access to food; and

· Bolsters Farm-to-Food Bank pipelines by providing reimbursements for harvesting, transporting, packing and processing produce and commodities for donation to food banks.

FISHERIES RELIEF

This bill provides $100 million in additional relief funding for ‘fishery participants’ (Tribal, subsistence, commercial, charter) under the CARES Act and $1 million for auditing and oversight of funds provided to the Commerce Department in the earlier CARES Act and the Heroes Act. Earlier this month, Rep. Huffman led a bipartisan letter to House leadership requesting additional relief funding.
PROVIDES CRITICAL RELIEF FOR STUDENTS, SCHOOLS, AND INSTITUTIONS OF HIGHER EDUCATION

Providing $90 billion for the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund for Education: The bill provides $90 billion for the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund for Education for grants to states to support elementary and secondary schools and public postsecondary institutions.
Funds included in this provision can be used for states to fulfill obligations under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). In April, Rep. Huffman led a bipartisan letter requesting funding for IDEA.
BROADBAND

Providing $1.5 Billion To Expand Access to Remote Learning: The bill immediately provides $1.5 billion for schools and libraries to purchase internet connectivity, hotspots and “connected devices” like tablets for students to facilitate remote learning throughout the length of the public health emergency.
HONORING OUR LEGAL AND MORAL RESPONSIBILITY TO SOVEREIGN TRIBAL NATIONS

Guaranteeing Funding to Assist Tribal Governments: This bill guarantees funding to assist tribal governments with the impacts of the public health emergency. The bill includes:
· $20 billion to assist federally recognized tribal governments with the fiscal impacts of the pandemic;

· $3 billion to address health care and tribal government needs to prevent, prepare for, and respond to the coronavirus.

Ensuring Parity for Tribal Nations: The bill ensures parity for tribal nations by dedicating resources in critical programs such as Centers for Disease Control and Prevention funding, education stabilization, transportation programs, drinking water and energy utility assistance, broadband connectivity programs, and more.
SAFEGUARDS FOR OUR DEMOCRACY

Provides $3.6 billion to ensure that elections can be held safely in 2020.
Provides $25 billion to preserve the Postal Service, which will play a key role in ensuring safe elections.
Provides $40 million to help ensure an accurate Census.

A fact sheet detailing the local and state provisions can be found here and a section by section summary of the bill here.

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Thadeus Greenson

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Thadeus Greenson is the news editor of the North Coast Journal.

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