Higgins Announces House Approval of Third COVID-19 Emergency Package
Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26) announced the House of Representatives has approved the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the third emergency package approved by Congress to address public health and economic needs related to COVID-19.
Higgins said, “We still have a long way to go in this public health crisis. First and foremost, this bill continues the process of responding to the most urgent needs of our hospitals and emergency response teams. Secondly, it begins the process of providing necessary relief to workers and small businesses who have been devastated economically by the COVID-19 pandemic. There will be more work ahead for Congress but this meets our immediate goal of keeping people alive.”
Highlights of the bill include:
Addressing the Immediate Public Health Emergency
- $200 billion investment in hospitals, health systems and health research
- $1.32 billion in additional funding for federally qualified community health centers, including Buffalo Clinics, to prevent and treat COVID-19
- Requires a COVID-19 vaccine to be made available without cost-sharing to everyone once available
- Community Response
- $150 billion for state and local governments for emergency response
- $5 billion in additional Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding
- WNY is expected to receive over $13.767 million in CDBG funding including: over $8.2M for Buffalo, $1.4M for Niagara Falls, $1.8M for Erie County, $1M for Tonawanda, $617,000 for Cheektowaga, $366,000 for Amherst, and $246,000 for Hamburg.
- $4 billion in Homeless Assistance & Prevention Grants
- WNY is expected to receive over $12.357 in Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG) homeless assistance including: over $8.3M for Buffalo, $1.399M for Niagara Falls, $1M for Tonawanda, and $1.65M for Erie County.
- $850 million, including over $45 million for New York through the JAG program to police departments and agencies, no match required, for overtime, protective equipment and other supplies
- $100 million in emergency aid to fire department available through the Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) program
- $450 million for emergency food assistance provided through food banks and pantries
- $900 million including over $28 million for New Yorkers in Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) emergency funding
- $1 billion, including $80 million in additional funds for New York, for the Community Services Block Grant program to help communities address the consequences of increasing unemployment and economic hardships
- $3.5 billion, including over $162 million for New York, for the Child Care Development Block Grant program, ensuring first responders and health care workers can access child care during the pandemic
- $425 million for Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services, to increase access to services during the crisis
- $45 million to support domestic violence programs assisting those who may be at greater risk during quarantine
- $19.57 billion to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, supporting medical care, expanded telemedicine and other veteran services
- $25 billion, including $4.139 billion for New York, to support public transportation systems continuing to operate during the outbreak
- $10 billion to airports supporting essential travel
Supporting Workers and Families
- Direct payments of up to $1,200 for individuals, and $500 per child, phased out as individual incomes exceed $75,000, and as joint filers exceed $150,000
- Once the income surpasses the relevant threshold, the amount of the check is reduced by 5% of the over-threshold income (the amount of income over the threshold) until the value reaches $0
- Refunds will be paid out via direct deposit or check. You generally must file a tax return in order to receive payment. However, in some cases the IRS does have the flexibility to coordinate with other federal agencies to get checks out for non-filers. There is no earned income requirement to be eligible for a rebate, but non-filers may need to take additional steps to receive their rebates.
- The rebate is considered a tax refund and is not counted towards eligibility for federal programs.
- $260 billion investment in Unemployment Insurance benefits to match the average paycheck of laid-off or furloughed workers
- Establishes the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, which provides unemployment benefits to individuals who do not qualify for regular unemployment compensation and are unable to work because of the COVID-19 public health emergency
- Covers self-employed workers (including gig workers and independent contractors), part-time workers, and those with limited work histories
- Provides an additional $600 per week payment to each recipient of unemployment insurance or Pandemic Unemployment Assistance for up to four months.
- It is a taxable benefit, but will be disregarded in determining income eligibility for Medicaid or CHIP.
- Provides an additional 13 weeks of unemployment benefits through December 31, 2020 to help those who remain unemployed after weeks of state unemployment benefits are no longer available
- Suspends student loan payment and interest accrual through September 30, 2020
- $8.8 billion for food purchases and outreach by schools
- $30.750 billion for an Education Stabilization Funds for states, school districts, and higher education institutions for costs related to COVID-19
- $13.5 billion formula grants to elementary & secondary education
- $3 billion to states
- $14.25 billion for higher education emergency relief
Small businesses Assistance:
- $350 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program, which will provide entities with low-interest, zero-fee loans of up to $10 million. Up to 8 weeks of average payroll and other costs will be forgiven if the business retains its employees and their salary levels. Principal and interest is deferred for up to a year and all borrower fees are waived.
- Eligibility includes small business, 501(c)(3) nonprofit, a 501(c)(19) veteran’s organization, or Tribal business concern, with not more than 500 employees, or the applicable size standard for the industry as provided by SBA, if higher.
- Also includes: sole-proprietors, independent contractors, and other self-employed individuals
- $10 billion for SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL)
- EIDLs are loans of up to $2 million that carry interest rates up to 3.75 percent for companies and up to 2.75 percent for nonprofits, as well as principal and interest deferment for up to 4 years.
- It will now provide an advance of $10,000 to small businesses and nonprofits within three days of applying for the loan. The EIDL advance (grant) of $10,000 does not need to be repaid, even if the recipient is ultimately denied for EIDL loan, and can be used toward paid sick leave to employees, payroll, increased production costs, or business obligations.
- Expands eligibility to include Tribal businesses, cooperatives, and ESOPs with fewer than 500 employees or any individual operating as a sole proprietor or an independent contractor during the covered period. (January 31, 2020 to December 31, 2020).
- SBA is required to establish regulations no later than 15 days after enactment. At least 2 weeks before implementation.
Additional guidance will be put together by federal departments. Congressman Higgins’ office is committed to providing residents with more specific details as those become available. Feel free to contact our office at 716-852-3501.