Source: United States House of Representatives – Congressman Matt Cartwright (17th District of Pennsylvania)
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Representative Matt Cartwright (PA-08) made the following statement ahead of consideration of a bipartisan House-Senate compromise coronavirus relief and government funding bill, on which he will vote to pass on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives. The vote is expected later today.
“Seven months after the House passed the Heroes Act coronavirus relief bill that prioritized frontline workers, families, small businesses and older Americans, we have a negotiated agreement that falls short in many ways. But House negotiators fought for and won important battles to make sure aid reaches people who are struggling, and big corporations can be held accountable for keeping people safe.
“When Senate Leader Mitch McConnell was finally ready to end his self-described ‘pause on relief’, he then tried for months to block another round of direct payments, enhanced unemployment insurance, rental assistance, food aid and more. His main priority was to give corporations a pass even if they blatantly put the health and safety of their employees and customers at risk. That will not be forgotten, but the House succeeded in providing relief that puts people over corporate profits.
“In addition to stimulus checks, enhanced unemployment, rental assistance to help landlords and tenants, and food aid, this compromise also includes priorities For The People like funds for equitable vaccine distribution, relief for our smallest businesses, investments in broadband in rural places, education and child care support, and my bill to help schools modernize their ventilation systems.
“There is no question that many of the lifelines in this bill needed to be stronger, and more needed to be done to ensure we can continue to keep our police officers, first responders, teachers and other public employees on payroll. However imperfect this compromise is, our constituents cannot wait any longer for us to act. It is time for us to come together to fund the government for the next fiscal year and deliver long overdue aid to the people we serve, who for months have been looking to us for help during this painful crisis.
“With distribution of two safe and effective vaccines underway, there is light at the end of the tunnel. But we have to continue to be responsive to American people’s needs until we get to the other side.”
The omnibus coronavirus relief and government funding bill includes the following provisions.
- Accelerates vaccine distribution: provides billions in urgently need funds to accelerate the free and equitable distribution of safe vaccines to as many Americans as possible as soon as possible, to implement a strong national testing and tracing strategy with billions reserved specifically for combating the disparities facing communities of color, and to support our heroic health care workers and providers.
- Ends surprise billing: includes bipartisan, bicameral legislation that will end surprise billing for emergency and scheduled care.
- Strong Support for Small Business: includes critical funding and policy changes to help small businesses, including minority-owned businesses, and nonprofits recover from the pandemic. The agreement includes over $284 billion for first and second forgivable PPP loans, expanded PPP eligibility for nonprofits and local newspapers, TV and radio broadcasters, key modifications to PPP to serve the smallest businesses and struggling non-profits and better assist independent restaurants, and includes $15 billion in dedicated funding for live venues, independent movie theaters, and cultural institutions. The agreement also includes $20 billion for targeted EIDL Grants which are critical to many smaller businesses on Main Street.
- Community Development Financial Institutions and Minority Depository Institutions: includes dedicated PPP set-asides for very small businesses and lending through community-based lenders like Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) and Minority Depository Institutions (MDIs); $9 billion in emergency U.S. Treasury capital investments in CDFIs and MDIs to support lending in low-income and underserved communities, including persistent poverty counties, that may be disproportionately impacted by the economic effects of the COVID–19 pandemic; and $3 billion in emergency support for CDFIs through the CDFI Fund to respond to the economic impact of the pandemic on underserved low-income and minority communities.
- Rental assistance: Provides $25 billion in critically needed rental assistance for families struggling to stay in their homes and an extension of the eviction moratorium.
- Strengthens the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC): enhances the LIHTC to help increase affordable housing construction and provide greater certainty to new and ongoing affordable housing projects.
- Direct payment checks: authorizes a new round of direct payments worth up to $600 per adult and child, also ensuring that mixed-status families receive payments.
- Strengthens Earned Income Tax Credit & Child Tax Credit: helps ensure that families who faced unemployment or reduced wages during the pandemic are able to receive a strong tax credit based on their 2019 income, preserving these vital income supports for vulnerable families.
- Supports paid sick leave: provides a tax credit to support employers offering paid sick leave, based on the Families First framework.
- Employee Retention Tax Credit: extends and improves the Employee Retention Tax Credit to help keep workers in their jobs during coronavirus closures or reduced revenue.
- Enhanced Unemployment Insurance benefits: averts the sudden expiration of Unemployment Insurance benefits for millions and added a $300 per week UI enhancement for Americans out of work.
- Nutrition assistance for hungry families: provides $13 billion in increased SNAP and child nutrition benefits to help relieve the historic hunger crisis that has left up to 17 million children food insecure.
- Education and child care: provides $82 billion in funding for colleges and schools, including support for HVAC repair and replacement to mitigate virus transmission and reopen classrooms, and $10 billion for child care assistance to help get parents back to work and keep child care providers open.
- Historic expansion of Pell Grants: includes the largest expansion of Pell Grant recipients in over a decade, reaching 500,000 new recipients and ensuring more than 1.5 million students will now receive the maximum benefit.
- Broadband access: invests $7 billion to increase access to broadband, including a new Emergency Broadband Benefit to help millions of students, families and unemployed workers afford the broadband they need during the pandemic.
- Fights the climate crisis: includes sweeping clean energy reforms, R&D enhancements, efficiency incentives, and extends clean energy tax credits to create hundreds of thousands of jobs across the clean economy. The package also phases out superpollutant HFCs, positioning the U.S. to lead the world in avoiding up to 0.5 degree Celsius of global warming.
- WRDA: includes the bipartisan Water Resources Development Act of 2020 (WRDA), creating good-paying jobs and strengthening and improving the vital water infrastructure that Americans rely on while unlocking the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund.
- Global Health: provides an additional $3.36 billion for a total of $4 billion for GAVI, the international vaccine alliance, recognizing that we are not truly safe until the whole world is safe from the coronavirus.