Coronavirus Relief Act – How it can help Pittsburgh Families

From Congressman Mike Doyle:

Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act (H.R. 748),

“The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act will provide relief to many people in Allegheny County. Here’s how the bill will help Pittsburghers:

Unemployment Insurance – The Unemployment Insurance program will be expanded to cover part-time, self-employed, and gig economy workers, and for the next four months, unemployment benefits will be increased by $600 per week in order to provide full paycheck replacement for households that have suffered job loss as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the steps taken to slow its spread. In addition, the CARES Act includes incentives for states to eliminate the usual waiting periods in order to get money to people faster. Finally, the CARES Act will provide an additional 13 weeks of federally-funded unemployment insurance benefits.

Direct Payments to Most Americans – The CARES Act will provide cash payments to most American households, including those who receive Social Security benefits, of $1,200 for each adult plus an additional $500 per child. The full payment will be available for individuals making up to $75,000 (individual) and $150,000 (married). The payments will be smaller for households with annual incomes up to $100,000 and $200,000, respectively, and individuals with incomes of more than $100,000 – and married couples with incomes of $200,000 or more – won’t get a payment.

Student Loan Relief – The CARES Act requires the Education Department to suspend monthly payments on all federally held student loans, without interest, through September 30. The bill provides tax relief for employers who implement student loan repayment programs, allowing a company to pay up to $5,250 of an employee’s student loan payments each year on a tax-free basis.

Preventing Evictions and Providing Shelter for the Homeless – The CARES Act includes more than $7 billion to help prevent evictions – and provide shelter for people experiencing homelessness.

Small Business Assistance – The CARES Act created a $350 billion Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) to provide zero interest, forgivable loans to small businesses and nonprofits for paying their workers, and to help pay for other expenses like rent, mortgage, and utilities. The CARES Act also contains $10 billion for SBA emergency grants of up to $10,000 to provide immediate relief for small business operating costs – and $17 billion to cover 6 months of payments for small businesses with existing SBA loans. Sole-proprietors, independent contractors, and other self-employed individuals are eligible for all of the SBA loans and grants, including refinancing existing SBA loans or a disaster loan into a PPP forgivable loan.

Essential Help for Our Health Care Providers – The CARES Act included $150 billion to help hospitals and other health care providers to pay for whatever they need to care for people infected by the coronavirus and keep their personnel safe. The funding can be used, for example, to pay for testing supplies, ventilators, personal protective equipment for health care workers, more workers, training, new construction to house patients, and emergency operation centers. The bill also includes $16 billion for new investments in the Strategic National Stockpile, surge capacity, and medical research on COVID-19.

Support for Emergency Workers – The CARES Act includes $3.5 billion to help provide child care assistance to health care sector employees, emergency responders, sanitation workers, and other workers deemed essential during the response to the coronavirus.

Assistance for State and Local Governments – The CARES Act also includes more than $150 billion to assist states, tribes, and local governments, as well as private non-profits performing critical and essential services, in paying for expenses related to their COVID-19 response. In addition, the bill provides $30 billion to provide emergency support to local school systems and higher education institutions so that they can continue to provide educational services to their students. It also provides $25 billion in aid to our nation’s transit systems to help protect public health and safety while ensuring continued access to jobs, medical treatment, food, and other essentials. Finally, the CARES Act includes more than $6 billion for Community Development Block Grants and other economic development funding to help mitigate the local economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic and the measures taken to slow it.

Help for Industries and Workers Hurt by the Coronavirus Outbreak – Finally, the CARES Act provides $500 billion for loans to larger businesses especially hard-hit by the coronavirus outbreak and the government response. The loans are intended to help these companies weather the shutdown and keep paying their workers so those employees can pay their bills. The bill includes a number of restrictions on the loans to ensure that the loan is used as intended, such as: the companies getting the loans can’t buy back their stock or pay dividends to shareholders for the length of the loan plus one year; executive compensation can’t be increased during the life of the loan; collective bargaining agreements must be protected and complied with over the life of the loan; the loans can not go to  businesses controlled by the President, Vice President, Members of Congress, or the heads of U.S. government departments. The bill also includes rigorous oversight measures, such as requirements for real-time public reporting of these loans, including terms, investments, or other assistance to corporations – as well as the creation of several oversight bodies including a Treasury Department Special Inspector General for Pandemic Recovery, a Pandemic Response Accountability Committee, and a Congressional Oversight Commission.”

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