March 27, 2020

Congress Passes Historic $2 Trillion Families & Workers-First Coronavirus Legislation

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Rep. Al Lawson (FL-05) applauded the passage of the $2.3 trillion H.R. 748, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

“I am proud to support this historic piece of legislation, which will bring urgently needed relief to families and small businesses all across our nation,” Rep. Lawson said.  “America is facing an unprecedented public health and economic emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The CARES Act is an important step in our ongoing effort to act decisively on behalf of Americans and ensure workers and families have the resources they need today and throughout this unprecedented crisis.”

The CARES Act:

  • Creates a $150 billion State and Local Coronavirus Relief Fund to provide states and localities additional resources to cope with the coronavirus pandemic. 
  • Defers payments, principal and interest for all federally-owned student loans through September 30, 2020. Provides $30.75 billion in grants to support local school systems and higher education institutions, including additional grants for students who need additional financial aid and work-study payments for students unable to work due to work-place closure.
  • Includes numerous 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 workers in the gig economy and self-employed workers.
  • 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. 
  • 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.
  • Provides an investment of about $200 billion in 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.
  • Provides More Than $100 Billion in Additional Emergency funding, including:
  • $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.  Florida will receive $968,627,399 under this program.
  • $2 billion for HUD Emergency Solution Grants 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 $90,762,131. In addition, the bill provides an additional $2 billion for these grants that will be allocated by HUD to the most hard-pressed areas.
  • $3.5 billion for the Child Care and Development Block Grant. Florida will receive $221,956,829 under this emergency appropriation.
  • $900 million to help low-income families pay their heating and cooling bills. Our state will receive $53,657,000 for this purpose during this public health emergency.
  • $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.  Florida will receive $20,152,160.

Lawson said, “Across the country, Americans face dire and immediate concerns: What will happen to my job? How can I pay my rent or mortgage, afford health care or even put food on the table? This legislation will provide rapid and meaningful relief for individuals, businesses, and those responding to the pandemic on the ground.”