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Congressman Sires' Statement on House Passage of $900 Billion Coronavirus Relief Legislation

Dec 22, 2020
Press Release

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, Congressman Albio Sires released the following statement after the House passed H.R. 133, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, which contains funding for the remainder of fiscal year 2021 as well as COVID-19 relief:

“As the coronavirus pandemic continues to flare up across the nation, and we are faced with both the health and economic consequences of the virus, it is passed time that the hard-working American people get more relief,” said Congressman Sires. “As we move into the winter it is essential that we provide appropriate support to help the millions of people struggling because of this virus. While everyone would have preferred to reach a deal sooner, I am confident that the measures in this legislation, and the billions in authorized funding that House Democrats fought for, will go a long way in providing concrete relief to the public.”

H.R. 133 includes numerous provisions to address various consequences of the pandemic including:

COVID-19

This legislation authorizes billions in new funding to help get the coronavirus pandemic under control in the United States. Provisions are included to accelerate the equitable distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine while strengthening our ability to conduct contact tracing and testing, two essential aspects of keeping the spread of the virus low.

Direct Payment and Tax Benefits

Also included is up to $600 in direct payments for adults and children in a second round of direct payments. Unlike the first round of direct payments, my colleagues and I fought to ensure that individuals without a social security number can receive a stimulus payment if their spouse has a social security number. Additionally, the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit will be improved to 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. The agreement also extends and improves the Employee Retention Tax Credit to help workers during COVID-19 related closures or reduced wages and provides a tax break for employers offering paid-sick leave.

Unemployment Benefits

The agreement also includes an extension of federal unemployment benefits and creates a new $300 payment for unemployed individuals. The length of time an unemployed individual can claim unemployment benefits has been increased by 11 weeks. There is also the creation of the Mixed Earner Unemployment Compensation, which provides a federally funded $100 per week additional benefit to individuals who have at least $5,000 a year in self-employment income but are disqualified from receiving Pandemic Unemployment Assistance because they are eligible for regular state unemployment benefits.

Housing Assistance

H.R. 133 includes a new moratorium on evictions and authorizes $ 25 billion in funding to authorize critically needed rental assistance to ensure as many Americans as possible can remain in their homes. Additionally, this legislation includes millions in targeted housing vouchers to reduce homelessness, and enhances the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit to help increase affordable housing now and in the future.

Small Business Support:

This legislation includes new funding and policy changes to help small businesses, including minority, veteran, and women owned businesses. $284 billion is included for forgivable Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans, with dedicated funds set aside for much smaller businesses. $15 billion in relief funds is included for live venues, independent theaters, and cultural institutions; and $20 billion in funds was authorized for targeted EIDL grants, which are crucial to many smaller businesses.

Other Provisions

This relief bill includes a 15% increase to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits and also includes boosts to child nutrition benefits to help those dealing with hunger. $10 billion is included in the legislation for child care assistance to assist parents that are transitioning back to the workplace. Billions of funds are also included for State and local governments to assist their response to COVID-19. The legislation also authorizes over $7 billion in funds to help fight COVID-19 across the globe, and includes a bipartisan agreement to end surprise medical billing. A Full section by section review of the relief legislation can be found here.