Coons votes to pass $2 trillion stimulus package to combat COVID-19 pandemic
Sen. Chris Coons, D-Delaware, voted on March 25 to pass a roughly $2 trillion stimulus package to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The bill is expected to quickly pass the House of Representatives and become law.
“Families across Delaware are already feeling the devastating impacts of COVID-19 and its disruption of our economy,” said Coons. “Businesses have been forced to close, workers have been furloughed, and many nonprofit organizations are unable to serve our most vulnerable neighbors. Delawareans need the government to step up and provide the help and resources required to get through this crisis.”
“Today, Republicans and Democrats upheld our responsibility to deliver for the American people and worked together to pass a $2 trillion relief package that will help American families in a time of great need,” said Coons. “This historic legislation will provide prompt aid to our small businesses, support to working families, and resources to the hospitals and health care workers on the front lines of this public health crisis. I’m also proud that Democrats fought to include an additional $150 billion for state and local governments, enhanced accountability and transparency for the $500 billion in industry support, expanded unemployment insurance, and more. This bill is the single largest relief package in American history, and we needed to get it right.”
“The passage of this bill is an important step forward, but there is still so much more work to be done,” said Coons. “In the days ahead, we need to ensure that this aid is delivered effectively and quickly, continue to assess the public health and economic needs of our communities and be ready to take additional legislative action.”
The roughly $2 trillion phase three stimulus package includes:
— An expansion and reform of the unemployment insurance program. The extended program increases the maximum unemployment benefit by $600 per week and ensures that laid-off workers, on average, will receive their full pay for four months. It ensures that workers are protected whether they work for businesses small, medium or large, along with self-employed and workers in the gig economy.
— $150 billion for state, local and tribal governments that are propping up local health systems on their own.
— A Marshall Plan for hospitals and medical needs of $150 billion. This includes investments in personal and protective equipment for health care workers, testing supplies, increasing workforce and training, new construction to house patients, an increase for the Strategic National Stockpile, medical research into COVID-19, and Medicare payment increases to all hospitals treating COVID-19 patients to ensure they receive the funding they need during this pandemic.
— $377 billion in capital to small businesses that desperately need support to make payroll and cover expenses. This bill provides cash-flow sustenance through 100% federally guaranteed loans to employers. If employers maintain or rehire their workers, the loans will be forgiven to a large extent, which will help workers to remain employed and help small businesses quickly snap back after this crisis. This funding also includes Coons’ $17 billion Small Business Debt Relief Act and his MEP Crisis Response Act. Coons also secured $10 million in federal grants to serve the most severely impacted businesses and nonprofits.
— $500 billion in industry support, with enhanced transparency and accountability. Every loan document will be public.
— $10 million in federal funding for the National Institute for Innovation in Manufacturing Biopharmaceuticals, or NIIMBL, which is headquartered in Newark, Delaware.
— Direct financial support to American working families. This bill provides $1,200 in direct payments that would apply equally to workers with incomes up to $75,000 per year, $150,000 for married couples, before phasing out and ending altogether for those earning more than $99,000, $198,000 for couples. Families will receive an additional $500 per child.
— $400 million for states to help prepare for the 2020 elections. Funding can be used, for example, to increase the ability to vote-by-mail, expand early voting and online registration and increase the safety of voting in person by providing additional voting facilities and more poll workers.
— $100 million for Assistance to Firefighters Grants and a $45 billion infusion into FEMA’s Disaster Relief Fund to ensure that firefighters and first responders can purchase the equipment and tools they will need to protect themselves and their communities throughout this crisis.
— $1.018 billion to help cover Amtrak’s operating losses during the unprecedented drop in ridership levels. Of that, $492 million is for the Northeast Corridor. This includes:
$80 million to support a new Pandemic Response Accountability Committee. This committee will ensure that all spending in this legislation is transparent to the public and to conduct effective oversight of the funds provided to guard against waste, fraud, and abuse.
$3.5 billion in additional funding for the Child Care Development Block Grant to provide child care assistance to health care sector employees, emergency responders, sanitation workers, and other workers deemed essential during the response to the coronavirus.
$30.75 billion in emergency support to local school systems and higher education institutions, which will include millions in grants to the University of Delaware and Delaware State University.
Protections for AmeriCorps members whose terms of service are interrupted so that they can continue to receive their Segal Education Awards.