Congresswoman Norma J. Torres (D-35th District) and Congressman Pete Aguilar (D-31st District) voted in favor of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), an emergency relief package with more than $2.2 trillion in economic assistance for American workers and businesses suffering from the coronavirus outbreak.
The legislation, which received approval from both Republicans and Democrats in Congress on March 27, was sent to President Trump for his signature.
The huge and historic stimulus package will provide for 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. It will probably take at least three weeks for individuals to receive their checks, analysts said.
"These payments will provide individuals with the cash they need right now to survive with much of the economy currently shut down," Torres said in a press release.
Torres, whose district includes part of Fontana, added that the legislation will brief relief to residents across the Inland Empire.
“But this package is historic for all the wrong reasons -- President Trump refused to act when he could have saved lives, and now we’re suffering through a public health and economic catastrophe," Torres said.
“The CARES Act will help my community meet critical needs, and that fact outweighs the concerns I have with other aspects of the bill. I’m hearing from people across the Inland Empire who are as worried about surviving the economic downturn as they are about surviving the pandemic. This package will help get them through the weeks and months ahead with a meal on the table and a roof over their head."
The CARES Act, among many other provisions, expands unemployment benefits, provides direct checks to workers based on their annual income, delivers grants and loans to retailers who avoid laying off workers, and invests aid in hospitals as they face unprecedented demands as a result of COVID-19.
The bill also includes specific provisions Torres called for to protect independent contractors and gig economy workers, such as truck drivers, carshare drivers, construction workers, janitors, and food delivery drivers.
“It was vital to me that this package help every single American -- including contract workers and gig economy workers whose jobs are among the first to end during an economic downturn,” Torres said in a news release. “I’m glad lawmakers from both sides of the aisle and in both Chambers of Congress recognized good policy when they saw it, and joined me in making it law.”
----- AGUILAR (D-31st District) also was pleased with the passage of the relief package.
“Today, I voted to ensure the Inland Empire will be able to stay afloat during this crisis," said Aguilar, whose district also includes part of Fontana. "By providing immediate cash payments to working people, new funding to help small businesses, and billions of dollars in new funding for state and local governments, this bipartisan bill will help ensure that our region can rise to the challenges posed by coronavirus and come out the other side stronger. While Congress still has work to do in the coming weeks, I’m proud to have supported this bipartisan effort to provide relief to the American people."
----- TORRES said that these are a few ways the legislation will benefit Californians:
• A $150 billion state and local coronavirus relief fund: Creates a $150 billion state and local coronavirus relief fund to provide states and localities additional resources to cope with the coronavirus pandemic. It is estimated that California will receive approximately $15.3 billion in desperately needed funds to benefit our state’s residents.
• $260 billion in dramatically expanded unemployment benefits: Includes numerous provisions to improve unemployment benefits, including providing an additional $600 per week for the next four weeks, providing an additional 13 weeks of federally funded benefits, and expanding eligibility to include workers in the gig economy 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.
• About $200 billion for hospitals, health care workers, and health research: 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 health care workers, including n95 masks, gowns, gloves, ventilators, etc.
• More than $100 billion in additional emergency appropriations, including the following:
----- Transit agencies: Provides $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. California will receive $3.75 billion under this program.
----- HUD emergency solution grants: Provides $2 billion for HUD emergency solution grants to states that will be distributed by formula. These grants are designed 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, California will receive $237 million. In addition, the bill provides an additional $2 billion for these grants that will be allocated by HUD to the most hard-pressed areas.
----- Child care and development block grant: Supports childcare and early education by providing $3.5 billion for the child care and development block grant. California will receive nearly $348 million 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. California will receive nearly $75 million for this purpose during this public health emergency.
----- Byrne-Justice Assistance Grant Program: Provides $850 million for this program, giving additional support to state and local law enforcement agencies, thereby allowing them, for example, to obtain the personal protective equipment and other medical items they may need during this public health emergency. California will receive $96 million under this appropriation.
----- 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 Los Angeles is more than $20 million. In addition, states can apply for additional funds above their minimum award, based on their needs.
----- Election assistance: Provides $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," Torres said. "Funding can be used, for example, to increase the ability to vote by mail, expand early voting, and expand online registration. Our state will receive $36 million for these purposes."