WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Representative Abigail Spanberger today voted with an overwhelming majority of the U.S. House of Representatives to pass a bipartisan emergency relief package in response to the growing coronavirus pandemic.
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act includes several provisions Spanberger pushed to include—such as direct payments to working families, expanded unemployment insurance, and federal aid to small businesses. Earlier this week, Spanberger called on congressional leaders to provide immediate relief to Central Virginia workers and small businesses as the coronavirus pandemic threatens the region’s communities and overall economy.
“We are in a moment of genuine national crisis. Over the past few weeks, I’ve heard heartbreaking stories from our neighbors who are losing their livelihoods, watching their cash flows plummet, and wondering how they’ll afford to put food on the table for their families. This vote is a vote for their future,” said Spanberger. “We need to deliver immediate assistance, and this emergency package takes on many of the financial challenges caused or soon-to-be caused by the coronavirus. With direct payments to workers and a boost to unemployment insurance, this bill would help ease some of the tremendous financial strain more and more families in Central Virginia are experiencing each day. And for our small businesses facing bankruptcy, this package is a step toward setting them up for success when they eventually reopen their doors. I know that these are complex challenges—and this bill is nowhere near the final step needed to address them—but we can’t afford to delay in taking action. In the weeks and months to come, I’ll keep fighting for the people and businesses that make our communities strong.”
On the floor of the U.S. House today, Spanberger outlined her support for this bill and the personal experiences of those she is fighting to support in Central Virginia. Click here to watch her full remarks.
As negotiations continued between congressional leaders and the administration earlier this week, Spanberger urged leadership in both parties to find a path forward on this emergency economic relief package.
Under the CARES Act, all U.S. residents with gross individual incomes of up to $75,000 would receive a $1,200 direct payment. For married couples, this income and corresponding payment would be $150,000 and $2,400, respectively. Additionally, families with children would be able to receive an additional $500 per child. A Social Security number would be required to receive these payments.
To address the increasing rates of unemployment in Virginia and across the country due to the coronavirus, the CARES Act also includes an additional $600 per week in emergency unemployment assistance to those currently receiving unemployment benefits. To ensure no one is left behind, the bill also creates a pandemic unemployment program for those not traditionally eligible for unemployment benefits such as the self-employed, workers in the gig-economy, independent contractors, and those with limited work history. This assistance would continue through July 31, 2020.
For small businesses, the CARES Act includes $349 billion in low-interest loans. These loans would be available to any business with 500 or fewer employees—and loans would be available during a covered period for independent contractors, self-employed workers, and sole proprietors.
The legislation also includes a provision establishing a Paycheck Protection Program for small businesses to seek loans guaranteed through the Small Business Administration (SBA). Recipients of these loans could apply for loan forgiveness related to payroll costs, rent, utilities, and mortgage interest. If a business fires employees or cuts employee pay, this loan forgiveness would be reduced.
Additionally, the CARES ACT provides an additional $10 billion for the SBA’s disaster loan program through the end of 2020. Last week, Spanberger announced that Central Virginia businesses can now apply for low-interest, emergency loan assistance through the SBA.
Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, Spanberger has fought to make sure Central Virginia healthcare workers, businesses, and working families have the healthcare and financial support they need as this crisis continues. Earlier this week, she led and introduced a bipartisan resolution calling on President Trump to make urgent use of the Defense Production Act to address urgent shortages in personal protective equipment for healthcare workers on the front lines of this crisis. And last week, Spanberger helped secure an announcement from the U.S. Trade Representative that they would make medical supplies a trade priority.
Spanberger also called on the administration to open a special enrollment period for individual health insurance signups due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and the need to provide affordable coverage to those who might be at risk of developing the disease.
And Spanberger has worked to address high-speed internet issues facing Central Virginia students and businesses amid the coronavirus pandemic. Yesterday, she led a bipartisan effort calling on the Federal Communications Commission to take steps to expand high-speed internet access for students facing school closures in response to the coronavirus pandemic. And last week, she led a push calling for strengthened U.S. Department of Education guidance to students, parents, and educators in rural areas as schools close in response to the coronavirus.