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Cuellar explains the new relief pending approval by the Senate

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Congressman Henry Cuellar
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Texas Border Business

Congress passed, and the president signed into law, a bipartisan coronavirus relief package that includes a number of measures that will provide American families with support they need to weather this public health and economic crisis for the next few months. 

However, there is still work that needs to be done. Last night, the House voted on additional legislation to expand the direct cash payments to $2,000. I urge my colleagues in the Senate to bring this important legislation to the floor before the legislative session ends. As a senior member of the Appropriations Committee, I will continue to fight for the additional support that Americans require as we continue to battle the COVID-19 crisis. 

On December 30th at 10am, I will be LIVE on Facebook to discuss this pandemic relief bill as well as increasing the second round of direct payments from $600 to $2,000.

Many details about how to access this relief are still unfolding, but some of the key provisions in the legislation are listed below. 

Accelerating vaccine distribution and crushing the coronavirus: The package provides billions in urgently need funds to accelerate the free and equitable distribution of safe vaccines to as many Americans as possible as soon as possible, to implement a strong national testing and tracing strategy with billions reserved specifically for combating the disparities facing communities of color, and to support our heroic health care workers and providers. 

Direct Payments: Democrats secured a new round of direct payments in this emergency relief package. Individuals earning up to $75,000 will receive $600. A family of four could receive up to $2400, depending on the parents’ income.

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The Trump administration has stated they expect stimulus payments to go out next week.

In this new agreement, mixed-status households with undocumented family members will be able receive the $600 direct payments. Democrats also secured a provisions that will also retroactively make mixed-status families with one Social Security number-holder eligible for the $1,200 per household and $500 per child checks allocated by the CARES Act, which was enacted in late March.

Strong support for small business:  The agreement includes over $284 billion for first and second forgivable PPP loans, expanded PPP eligibility for nonprofits and local newspapers, TV and radio broadcasters, key modifications to PPP to serve the smallest businesses and struggling non-profits and better assist independent restaurants, and includes $15 billion in dedicated funding for live venues, independent movie theaters, and cultural institutions. The agreement also includes $20 billion for targeted EIDL Grants which are critical to many smaller businesses on Main Street. To apply for 

The agreement includes dedicated PPP set-aside for very small businesses and lending through community-based lenders like Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) and Minority Depository Institutions (MDIs); $9 billion in emergency U.S. Treasury capital investments in CDFIs and MDIs to support lending in low-income and underserved communities, including persistent poverty counties, that may be disproportionately impacted by the economic effects of the COVID–19 pandemic; and $3 billion in emergency support for CDFIs through the CDFI Fund to respond to the economic impact of the pandemic on underserved low-income and minority communities. More information on small business loans is available here

Rental assistance: Democrats secured $25 billion in critically needed rental assistance for families struggling to stay in their homes and an extension of the eviction moratorium. Learn more about this program, which will be run by the State of Texas, here.

Strengthens the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit: The package enhances the LIHTC to help increase affordable housing construction and provide greater certainty to new and ongoing affordable housing projects. Direct payment checks: Democrats secured a new round of direct payments worth up to $600 per adult and child, also ensuring that mixed-status families receive payments. 

Strengthened Earned Income Tax Credit & Child Tax Credit: The agreement helps ensure that families who faced unemployment or reduced wages during the pandemic are able to receive a strong tax credit based on their 2019 income, preserving these vital income supports for vulnerable families.

Employee Retention Tax Credit: The agreement extends and improves the Employee Retention Tax Credit to help keep workers in the jobs during coronavirus closures or reduced revenue. 

Enhanced Unemployment Insurance benefits: Democrats averted the sudden expiration of Unemployment Insurance benefits for millions and added a $300 per week UI enhancement for Americans out of work.

Nutrition assistance for hungry families: Democrats secured $13 billion in increased SNAP and child nutrition benefits to help relieve the historic hunger crisis that has left up to 17 million children food insecure. 

Education and childcare: The agreement provides $82 billion in funding for colleges and schools, including support for HVAC repair and replacement to mitigate virus transmission and reopen classrooms, and $10 billion for child care assistance to help get parents back to work and keep child care providers open.

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