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Velazquez on CARES Act Passage

Velazquez on CARES Act Passage
March 27, 2020
Press Release
Washington, DC – Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY) released the following statement today regarding passage of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARE) Act:
 
“The legislation we passed today will offer an economic lifeline to millions of working families and small businesses in New York and throughout the nation. This bill is not perfect. However, with the economy in freefall and the pandemic paralyzing our nation, the American people need and deserve swift, meaningful action and this legislation delivers. 
 
“Democrats were able to expand the Unemployment Insurance provisions in this bill to help suffering workers. The bill includes an enormous $260 billion investment in Unemployment Insurance to match the average paycheck of laid-off or furloughed workers.  We further secured an additional 13 weeks of federally-funded benefits to be made available immediately. The astronomical unemployment claim numbers reported yesterday made it abundantly clear that these resources will be needed. Importantly, workers in the growing ‘gig economy’, freelancers and the self-employed will be able to tap into this vital coverage, a key provision Democrats helped advance.    
 
“Small businesses in New York and across the country are on the precipice of failure, due to this pandemic. Restaurants, hotels, gyms, barber shops and practically every other sector of the economy are hurting immeasurably. As the Chairwoman of the Small Business Committee, I worked with my Senate counterparts and the Democratic Leadership on the historic small business relief provisions contained in the CARE Act. The bill allocates $350 billion for forgivable, low-cost loans for business to continue paying their employees.  Let me be clear: these loans are fully forgivable if firms keep their workforce on the payroll during this crisis. This program is designed to help businesses and workers alike weather the dual public health and economic crises we face.
 
“However, loans are not enough. That is why Democrats fought for emergency grants.  Working with my counterparts in the Senate, we secured $10 billion for the Small Business Administration to provide grants to small business – for the first time in the agency’s history. This new program will help one million small businesses immediately.  Since the beginning of this crisis, I’ve advocated debt-free options to assist small firms and the mix of fully forgivable loans and grants in this bill accomplishes that goal. 
 
“Many New Yorkers are deeply worried about losing their housing from this economic turbulence. The CARE Act takes meaningful steps to help tenants, public housing residents and homeowners stay in their homes. First and foremost, it includes a four-month moratorium on evictions for residents of federally subsidized apartments, including NYCHA. Federally-backed mortgages will also receive a reprieve through a foreclosure moratorium.  
 
“The bill also allocates badly needed funds for federal housing initiatives. $1.25 billion will go to the tenant-based Section 8 Program to preserve vouchers, even for those who might experience a loss of income from the coronavirus.  Money is also included to retain and support participating landlords.  Another $1 billion will go to the project-based Section 8 program, in order to maintain normal operations and take any additional actions that might be necessary during the time the program is impacted by the coronavirus.  
 
“The bill provides $685 million for HUD’s Public Housing Operating Fund.  This is money is vital to ensuring NYCHA continues daily operations and addresses maintenance issues associated with the coronavirus and keeps residents safe. Again, the housing funding in this bill is not enough, but it is an important stopgap that New York and our nation need, now.   
 
“Healthcare and hospital workers are on the frontlines of battling this pandemic and this bill provides them assistance, funneling $200 billion to hospitals, health systems and health research. Our doctors, nurses, other healthcare professionals and hospital workers deserve our profound gratitude. However, they also need more resources to do their job and this bill takes important strides in that direction.  
 
“While this bill contains necessary steps for New York’s workers and families, it is by no means sufficient. Ultimately, this economic stimulus package is the result of painstaking compromise. As with any compromise, no side got everything they wanted.  I personally would have preferred for this bill to provide greater financial relief for localities like New York, which have been hit hardest. However, had we failed to pass this bill, the difficulties to come would be incalculably worse. Right now, the American economy is bleeding; this package constitutes an economic tourniquet.  
 
“With that in mind, I stress that our work is far from over. Additional legislation will be needed for the economy to recover and heal. As work begins on additional stimulus measures, I will be advocating for greater funding for New York, for small businesses, affordable housing, families and healthcare workers. Today’s emergency measure is a start and, while we may be relieved by its passage, there will be more to come.”