COVID Relief Package passes; Slotkin votes to extend aid to Michiganders

U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin

U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Holly) voted Dec. 21, 2020, to deliver vital relief to Michiganders suffering from the COVID-19 crisis.

The package, based on a compromise, emergency relief proposal Slotkin put forth with the Problem Solvers Caucus earlier this month, follows Slotkin’s months-long, bipartisan push to revive stalled negotiations on a federal COVID relief package, to alleviate suffering felt by Michigan families, businesses, and communities due to the pandemic.

“After months of stalled negotiations on COVID relief, our bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus worked together with counterparts in the Senate, and came up with a $900 billion emergency relief package, designed as a bridge to get folks to the spring,” Slotkin said. “Our bill jump-started negotiations and served as the basis for the hard-fought compromise package we voted on today. The 25 Democrats and 25 Republicans of the Problem Solvers Caucus said we would not go home for Christmas without a deal. Even if it meant dragging our tree and our presents into the office, we would not rest until we delivered relief for the American public. Today, we are making good on that commitment.”

“This bipartisan package was designed to get us through the next few months,” Slotkin said. “It will deliver relief to Michiganders who need it now in the form of direct stimulus payments, an extension of federal unemployment benefits, a new round of PPP loans for the hardest-hit businesses and streamlined loan forgiveness for smaller loans, money to get the new vaccine out and into communities, and so much more.”

Unfortunately, Slotkin said in a release, it doesn’t include aid to state and local governments — risking layoffs for first responders and tough cuts to basic services — while leaving out dedicated grants for local restaurants. She’s hopeful that in the new Congress in January, state and local aid, as well as other relief not in the bill, will be addressed.

“At a time when politics is so deeply divided, when people have lost faith in Congress’ ability to help them, passing this package proves that bipartisan cooperation makes a difference in peoples’ lives –– to their pocketbooks and their kids,” Slotkin said. “That’s our fundamental responsibility as lawmakers. And while we still have work to do to provide additional relief in the months ahead, we showed that compromise is still possible when a group of members sits down to get it done.”

The relief package:

Provides direct relief and supports communities:
• Extends federal unemployment benefits through March 14, 2021 including for self-employed individuals, contractors, “gig economy” workers, and individuals who have exhausted their state unemployment benefits
• $300 per week in federal supplemental unemployment benefits
• $600 per person and child, in direct stimulus payments for individuals making up to $75,000 per year, with more limited benefits for individuals above that income.
• $25 billion in rental assistance and an extension of the eviction moratorium through January 31st
• Extends the time period state and local governments can spend funds allocated to them through the CARES Act by one year
• $4.25 billion to support mental health and opioid treatment

Supports small businesses and communities:
• $284 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program loans to small businesses
• Allows small businesses to apply for another round of PPP funding, up to $2 million, if they have fewer than 300 employees and have experienced greater than 25% revenue loss
• Streamlines the process for forgiveness of loans under $150,000 to a one-page form
• Clarifies that forgiveness of a PPP loan will not count towards an entities’ gross income for taxation purposes and that deductions are allowed for expenses paid for with proceeds of a PPP loan that is forgiven
• Helps support minority-, women- and veteran-owned small businesses by setting aside PPP funds for businesses with fewer than 10 employees, and designated funding through community-based lenders like CDFIs and MDIs
• $20 billion in Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) grants, which are critical to many of the smallest businesses, including those without significant payroll costs
• $15 billion to support live venues, independent movie theaters, and cultural institutions
• Extends the Employee Retention Tax Credit, helping small businesses maintain their payroll
Supports food security:
• Provides $13 billion in nutrition assistance
• Increases SNAP benefits by 15% for 6 months
• Provides $400 million to support food banks and food pantries
• Provides $175 million for nutrition services for seniors, such as Meals on Wheels
• Provides additional, emergency funds to support food assistance provided by schools and childcare centers

Accelerates vaccine distribution:
• Provides $69 billion for vaccine distribution and COVID-19 testing, including $19 billion for vaccine procurement, $8.75 billion for vaccine distribution, and $22.4 billion for testing and contract tracing
Gets help to schools, parents and students
• $7 billion to increase access to broadband
• $82 billion in funding for colleges and schools, including 2.3 billion for Michigan
• $10 billion dedicated to child care assistance

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