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Higgins Announces House Approval of COVID Disaster Relief Package

Dec 21, 2020
Press Release
Funding Helps Struggling Families & Businesses; Fights the Spread of COVID-19

Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26) announced the House of Representatives has approved a major COVID disaster relief package providing urgent resources to families, businesses and communities.

Higgins said, “The health and lives of the American people are at stake. From education to employment, the pandemic has had a devastating effect on all aspects of society. It is the role of the federal government to respond to a national emergency, and while imperfect, this bill addresses several of the urgent needs people are facing.”

Congress last passed comprehensive legislation addressing the pandemic on March 27, 2020, with the bipartisan approval of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.  At that time, the United States had approximately 105,300 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 2,300 related deaths. In the nine months that have passed, US cases have grown to over 17.8 million cases and over 317,656 US deaths. 

Below are the details in the bipartisan COVID relief package approved this week:

Relief for Families:

·       $600 in Direct Payments to eligible adults and dependent children

·       $300/week in pandemic unemployment assistance through March 14, 2021; continues to make self-employed, gig workers and other non-traditional employees eligible

·       Addresses food insecurity with $13 million to increase SNAP benefits by 15% for six months, supports food banks and funds senior nutrition programs

·       Includes bipartisan lookback legislation introduced by Higgins allowing low-income families to use income levels from 2019 to determine the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit eligibility. This measure keeps low-income, wage-earning families eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit, which for tax year 2019 is worth between $6,557 to $529 to eligible families.

·       $25 billion in rental assistance to keep families in their homes, including the extension of the eviction moratorium through January 31, 2021. Higgins recently sent a letter to House leadership requesting this be included in the package. 

·       $10 billion supporting child care programs with funds provided through the Community Development Block Grant Program.

Relief for Small Business

·       $284 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), expanding and enhancing eligibility to include nonprofits, independent restaurants & local newspapers.

·       $20 billion toward Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) grants for businesses in low-income communities

·       $12 billion in funding for small businesses through Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) and the creation of a new Neighborhood Capital Investment Program.

·       Provides a tax credit to support employers offering paid sick leave

·       Extends and improves the Employee Retention Tax Credit to keep workers on the job

·       Adds provisions included in the Save our Stages bill, providing $15 billion for live venues, independent movie theaters and cultural institutions

Relief for Communities

·       $7 billion to increase access to broadband, including $3.5 billion in dedicated funding for a new Emergency Broadband Benefit 

·       $54.3 billion for public K-12 schools

·       $4.05 billion in education funding to states, including assistance for private K-12 schools

·       $22.7 billion for higher education

·       Supports United States Postal Service (USPS) workers and mail delivery to Americans by converting the $10 billion loan included in the CARES Act into direct funding

·       $14 billion for transit agencies, such as the Niagara Frontier Transportation Agency (NFTA)

·       $10 billion for state highways

·       $2 billion for airports & concessionaires, $16 billion supporting aviation workers

·       $2 billion for school bus, motorcoach & ferry industries

·       $1 billion for Amtrak

·       Extends the deadline for communities to spend CARES Act funding through December 31, 2021

Additional Resources to Fight the Spread of COVID

·       Close to $20 billion for vaccines & therapeutics

·       $8.75 billion to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) & states for distribution of vaccines

·       $22 billion provided to states for testing and tracing of COVID cases, includes $2.5 billion in grants for underserved communities

·       $9 billion for health care providers

·       $4.5 billion in mental health funding

·       $3 billion to build the strategic national stockpile

The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration and approval.