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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Rep. Scott Peters (CA-52) announced his support for the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) which the House expects to vote on tomorrow. CARES is a bipartisan package that will provide significant financial relief to workers and businesses across the country and bolsters communities’ health care response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

“Rescuing the American economy means rapidly providing relief to those facing income loss and to industry sectors whose employees are bearing the brunt of this public health crisis,” said Rep. Peters. “This package provides immediate assistance to Americans confronting economic strain by putting money directly into their pockets while also giving small businesses greater, faster access to emergency grants and loans. It also invests in crucial resources that will protect the public and hardworking health care heroes on the frontlines of the pandemic. While this bill is not perfect–the result of compromise with the GOP-controlled Senate in order to dispatch help to the American people more quickly–the House was able to ensure that CARES delivered significant help to those who need it most.”

Many of Rep. Peters’ priorities were included in the package, which:

Provides Economic Stability

  • Provides Americans with a direct cash infusion with up to $1,200 of immediate assistance per individual and up to $3,400 for a family of four.
  • Gives businesses access to emergency Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs) as advance payments, and provides eligibility to loan forgiveness if they used loans to pay their employees, rent or utilities.
  • Allows borrowers to request a 180 day forbearance for their mortgage if they have experienced financial hardship due to COVID-19.
  • Prohibits foreclosures on all federally-backed mortgages for 60 days beginning March 18, and prohibits eviction filings for 120 days.
  • Suspends federal student loan payments for six months at the request of a borrower.

Invests in Health Care

  • Appropriates $100 billion in support for hospitals and health care providers and $1.32 billion for community health centers.
  • Increases Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements with a 20 percent payment boost for Medicare patients admitted for COVID-19 and relief from the 2 percent sequester reduction through the end of the year, in addition to delayed cuts to hospitals that serve low-income populations.
  • Adds $425 million in funding for mental health programs, including $250 million for behavioral health clinic expansion and $50 million for suicide prevention programs.  
  • Continues support for expanding COVID-19 testing access, paramount in properly assessing nationwide spread and to get those who have contracted the virus the support and health care they need as early as possible.
  • Provides $4.3 billion to states and local public health agencies to purchase personal protective equipment (PPE), lab testing and to invest in other imperative preparedness activities, as well as an additional $16 billion to replenish the Strategic National Stockpile, which is the nation’s largest emergency supply of life-saving pharmaceuticals and medical supplies.

Helps the Most Vulnerable

  • Provides $4 billion in emergency appropriations for Emergency Solutions Grants to get people off the streets and to help reduce exposure to COVID-19 among people experiencing homelessness. The CARES Act also includes $5 billion for Community Development Block Grants, which can be used for rental assistance.

The CARES Act contains language from two of Rep. Peters’ bills. First, the Congressman’s Employer Participation in Repayment Act, will provide aid to Americans struggling to pay off college debt by making employer-provided student loan payments tax-exempt up to $5,250 a year—similar to tax exemptions for tuition assistance programs. The second bill included is the bipartisan Preventing Drug Shortages Act, which will help address the critical issue of drug shortages that affect patient care and have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 health emergency.

The package additionally includes a majority of the principles outlined in the New Democrat Coalition’s Economic Recommendations, which offered the federal government ideas about how to best triage and recover, streamline and stabilize and return to normal. A Vice-Chair of the coalition, Rep. Peters helped craft and was tapped to present the principles to the House Democratic Caucus as conversation began to unfold regarding the bill last week.

This is the third response package Congress will take up since February. The Families First Coronavirus Response Act, written and passed by the House last week, took steps to strengthen Americans’ health care access and boosted financial security through paid sick leave and enhanced unemployment insurance. Earlier in the month, the House passed a $8.3 billion emergency supplemental bill to help states, communities, and federal agencies combat the spread of the virus.

Importantly, the bill ensures company executives cannot enrich themselves with taxpayer assistance. It restricts executive compensation and stock buybacks for companies that take taxpayer-funded assistance and requires corporations that receive stimulus help to keep workers on the payroll.