|Message from Pramila;
I know what a hard time this has been for so many of you across the Seventh Congressional District. Our state has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, and I have been listening to you and pushing for federal relief package that matches the scale of this crisis and provides immediate relief to those who are struggling.
On Friday, the House passed the CARES Act, the third emergency COVID-19 relief package. This $2.2 trillion relief package has now been signed into law, and while it is not perfect, it will deliver critically needed aid to people in our district, state and across the country.
Please join me this Wednesday, April 1st at 5:00 p.m. PT for an online briefing on what’s included in this latest relief package and how it will help you and our state.
As always, my goal is to keep you as updated as possible through tele-town halls, virtual briefings and newsletters; to help answer the questions you may have; and to try and address the individual issues you are dealing with through my constituent services team.
Third Emergency COVID-19 Relief Package: The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security “CARES” Act
The CARES Act is the third emergency relief package Congress has passed to respond to this global crisis, and I want to assure you that it will not be the last. This bill is far from being perfect, but it is an important step forward in making sure our state and our people get much-needed relief.
I fought hard for this bill to include many of the priorities that I pushed for on behalf of all of you and the nearly 100 members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus in my capacity as CPC Co-Chair. The final law includes many of those priorities.
Here are a few key things included:
- The largest expansion in decades of unemployment insurance benefits for laid-off and furloughed workers. We have enhanced unemployment insurance by $600 so that the most laid-off workers will receive 100% of their paycheck in benefits for four months. And we expand unemployment insurance for those who might not typically qualify, like gig workers and independent contractors. This law also waives waiting periods and extends the number of weeks federally funded unemployment insurance will be available.
- Direct payments to put money immediately in the pockets of working people and families, something I have called for repeatedly. This package provides working families $1,200 in direct assistance and $500 for each child. The full payment would be available to those individuals making less than $75,000, or families making less than $150,000. I know this might not be enough for everyone; I have called for more than just a one-time payment and will fight for more direct assistance in future packages.
- More than $350 billion in emergency grants and forgivable loans to devastated small businesses and nonprofits, including $10 billion in small business emergency grants of up to $10,000 to provide immediate relief to small businesses.
- $150 billion to help hospitals and others in the health care system who are on the frontlines of the fight against COVID-19. It also increases the amounts of lifesaving personal protective equipment in the National Strategic Stockpile so we can address the shortage of critically needed equipment.
- $150 billion relief fund to help strained local and state governments pay for the unexpected costs related to COVID-19—something that is especially important to ensure our state and local governments can continue to provide other essential services we all rely on daily. Washington state will receive a total of at least $2.9 billion from this fund.
- Additional funding for a number of programs, including education, housing, and childcare. Importantly, it establishes a temporary moratorium on evictions and foreclosures in federally funded properties, as well as a moratorium on student loan payments through September 2020, with no interest accruing.
- The bill also includes support for struggling industries that do right by their employees and live by certain conditions like keeping their employees on payroll and eliminating dividends and any stock buybacks.
All along, my goal for this federal disaster relief package has been to provide direct assistance to individuals and families who are deeply affected: Workers and vulnerable communities; small businesses who desperately need help; hospitals and health care facilities and frontline workers who are overwhelmed and need us to provide PPE and other necessary equipment to keep them safe; and state and local governments who have been shouldering so much during this crisis.
This bill isn’t perfect and reflects a lot of compromise, but I believe it accomplishes the majority of those goals.
Work on Next Relief Package
I am already working with a number of my colleagues on provisions for the next relief package, to ensure it includes priorities we fought for but did not get this time.
For example, the CARES Act does not include any funding for treatment of COVID-19, which is unacceptable. People are already facing the tragedy of a for-profit, broken healthcare system—and to receive enormous bills for the treatment of this virus would be absolutely immoral. The CARES Act also leaves out large categories of immigrants from many of its provisions—not just undocumented immigrants but also DACA recipients and some legal permanent residents. Even as DACA recipients work in our health care system are putting their lives on the line to protect our communities and farm workers are picking the food that is going into food banks and on kitchen tables across the country, we have decided to eliminate them from any relief. It is unconscionable and I am continuing my fight for inclusion of immigrants in the next bill.
We also need more rent and mortgage relief, to make sure utilities do not get shut off for our most vulnerable families, ensure the health and safety of people in the criminal justice and immigration detention system, and mandate that important paid leave provisions apply to all workers in this time of crisis, including at the largest companies. Congress must also conduct vigorous oversight of industry assistance to ensure taxpayer dollars are used to support workers, not to further inequality.
This is a crisis of epic proportions and we must continue to do everything we can to respond with the scale sufficient to meet the suffering of people across our country.
I want to close by expressing my deepest gratitude to all the public health workers, teachers, first responders, garbage collectors, delivery people, government employees, and so many more who are on the front lines of this crisis. Our state and nation owe you a tremendous debt of gratitude and I am committed to fighting to make sure you have all the support you need.
I am so proud to represent a district and a state with so much compassion, resilience and commitment. We are strong and we will get through this together with kindness, compassion and open hearts.
I look forward to joining you on Wednesday evening for our online briefing. In the meantime, you can stay in touch by reaching out to my office, signing up for my newsletter or following me on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.
Sending you love and justice,
U.S. Representative Pramila Jayapal
Washington’s 7th District