As the first COVID-19 vaccine was administered in the U.S., the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus and a bipartisan group of senators finalized a COVID-19 relief package that U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin, D-Holly, calls the “best hope” to get help to Americans before the end of the year.
“We held a bipartisan press conference to announce it, doing what the American people have been asking of us for nine months: to put partisanship aside and find a way to help the country,” Slotkin said in a statement.
“The Problem Solvers Caucus –– made up of 25 Democrats and 25 Republicans –– stood today to push for a single bill that includes aid for our state and local governments, rather than two, separate bills. All negotiation requires give and take, and in order to preserve the state and local aid, it meant compromising on the issue of limiting liability for our businesses. There are aspects of this language I don’t love, but my concerns are far outweighed by the critical financial condition of our state and local governments. I refuse to go back to my district for the holidays and tell our mayors, teachers, police, fire and first responders that we couldn’t come up with a deal to prevent them from getting pink slips in 2021. And if we don’t get state and local funding now, I do not believe we can count on a future deal to get these funds.
“To my House and Senate colleagues who may be critical of this compromise: I urge you to read the bill, acknowledge that it was designed as a bridge to the spring, and look beyond politics, to the suffering of the American people. Now is not the time for “messaging” bills that have no chance of passing. Platitudes and empty demands from the sidelines won’t feed the people standing in food lines, or help the small business owner just trying to make it through the winter. We need to give them concrete help. And that means bipartisan compromise.
“When the Problem Solvers and our bipartisan Senate colleagues began working to restart negotiations, it was without the blessing of the leadership in the House, Senate and the White House. It was rank and file members who simply understood that the country needs us to rise above the nastiness of politics today to get something done. I urge leaders on all sides to bring this compromise to the floor this week, and give the American public some hope that governing for the greater good is still possible.”
Here are the details of the package:
• Extends unemployment assistance for 16 weeks with an extra $300 per week
• Provides a second round of PPP for the hardest-hit small businesses, including for restaurants, and EIDL grants
• Puts left over CARES Act funding toward PPP
• Simplifies loan forgiveness for PPP loans of $150,000 or less
• $13 billion in food assistance, including for SNAP assistance, food banks and pantries
• Provides $25 billion for emergency rental assistance and extension of the eviction moratorium through January 31
• Extends student loan forbearance through April 1, 2021
• $13 billion for farmers, ranchers, growers, and fisheries
• $35 billion for healthcare providers
• $16 billion for testing, tracing and distributing the vaccine
• $12 billion in targeted assistance to help low-income and minority communities who have been disproportionately affected by this crisis
• $5 billion for substance abuse prevention and treatment, as well as mental health
• $82 billion in education funding, including $54 billion for K-12 and $20 billion for higher education
• $10 billion for child care providers
• $10 billion for broadband access
• $45 billion for the transportation sector, including airlines, airports, buses, Amtrak, and public transit systems
• Turns a $10 billion loan into a grant to support the U.S. Postal Service
• $160 billion in support for state, local and tribal governments (60% for state government, 20% for counties, 20% for municipalities). States cannot use this funding to make contributions to public pension funds, or expand public pension benefits while receiving funds.
• Liability protections for businesses from December 2020 through the end of the public health emergency.