Ensuring the CARES Act Helps New Yorkers
Washington, March 31, 2020
Many of you have already seen my statement on the CARES Act, which the House passed last week to provide a third round of economic stimulus and emergency response to the coronavirus, but I wanted to provide you with a version that includes helpful links to information and resources concerning federal aid that you may be eligible for through this important legislation. As I said in my statement, while there is still more that needs to be done to help the City and State handle this enormous crisis, this bill is an important start for many New Yorkers and millions of Americans to face the health risks and economic hardships ahead.
Read my CARES Act statement below:
Last week, the House passed the bipartisan CARES Act, the next phase of Congress’ COVID-19 response. While this was certainly not the last effort to tackle the enormous economic, health, and budget issues caused by this pandemic, it took important, emergency steps to respond to the needs of working Americans, support those who have lost their jobs, and provide for the hospitals and healthcare workers on the frontlines of this crisis.
While the bill provided remarkable measures to meet the challenge of this moment, I believe more must be done. The bill does not provide nearly enough funding for New York State and New York City to cover the costs they are bearing responding to the pandemic. We have to make sure our state, which is on the frontlines of this pandemic, remains whole in future stimulus bills. In addition, I have long supported direct cash payments to help people get through this economic crisis, but the $1200 one-time payment to working families is totally insufficient. I do appreciate my Democratic Senate colleagues for fighting to at least double these payments from the $600 initially offered by Leader McConnell, and I will continue to fight for sustained funding for working families.
The bill includes short moratoriums on evictions for federally-subsidized homes and foreclosures for federally backed mortgages and provides mortgage forbearance for homeowners and protections for renters. While that covers about half of the housing market, many homeowners and renters will have inadequate protections should they be unable to make rent. Further, I appreciate the work of Senate Democrats to put in guardrails and real oversight for the corporate bailout in the bill, which is a vast improvement from the secret corporate slush fund Republicans initially presented. We cannot make the mistake of thinking that funneling money into massive corporate interests will get us through this disaster.
What will get us through is supporting working families and funding our hospitals and health care workers. For the millions of Americans who have lost their jobs because of COVID-19, including those not typically covered by unemployment insurance such as contract, freelance, gig, and furloughed workers, the bill provides an additional $600 per week in unemployment compensation. When combined with state unemployment insurance, which my Democratic Senate colleagues fought hard to extend for three additional months beyond the Republican’s initial plan, nearly every American worker will continue to take home roughly the same income during the crisis. The bill also provides significant funding to prevent homelessness and help public housing agencies stay afloat as tenants lose income. Student borrowers would be allowed to defer all payments, interest, and principal for student loans through September 2020 and those students forced to drop out when their college or university shut down would not be penalized.
For Small Business owners and nonprofit organizations, the bill provides robust relief, including $350 billion in loan forgiveness grants for small businesses and nonprofits to pay their rent and other costs as long as they maintain their workforce. The bill also provides $10 billion in emergency grants of up to $10,000 for immediate relief of operating costs and enough funding for the Small Business Administration to cover six months of loan payments for impacted small businesses. The bill also provides $25 billion for transit authorities, including the $4 billion MTA requested to continue providing services through the pandemic, as well as funding for the Port Authority, Amtrak, and other critical transportation infrastructure in the Tri-State Area.
Perhaps most importantly for New York State and New York City, this bill includes a “Marshall Plan” for hospitals providing $100 billion in funding directly to hospitals to reimburse the massive costs of responding to the pandemic. The bill also provides $1.3 billion for Community Health Centers to care for their patients on the frontlines. To make sure health care workers and essential employees can stay on the job, the bill also provides $3.5 billion for child care for frontline workers, including grocery clerks, pharmacists, and first responders.
I look forward to working together to support New York State’s and New York City’s incredible efforts to confront this virus, continue supporting working families, and fight this pandemic with every possible resource.