WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Kevin Cramer (R-ND) issued the following statement after the Senate passed its Coronavirus (COVID-19) Phase Three relief package:
“The Phase Three package injects immediate help directly where it’s needed most. Our bipartisan plan bolsters the economy, protects American workers and families, assists small businesses, and increases funding for health care facilities and life-saving medical equipment as we work toward a cure for this virus. The best way to end the economic uncertainty caused by COVID—19 is to combat the pandemic itself. I urge the House to pass this package right away and send it to President Trump’s desk. The American people have waited long enough.”
In addition to immediate direct assistance for American families, workers, and businesses, the Phase Three package includes additional funds for hospitals, schools, agricultural producers, state response efforts, and agencies across the federal government working to combat COVID—19 and its impact on the United States.
Senator Cramer strongly advocated for this package when it was introduced, fighting to secure its passage through the Senate to provide families with the immediate help they need.
Introduced by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, this bipartisan plan was assembled by the Small Business Committee, Finance Committee, HELP Committee, and Banking Committee. The final package was split into two parts: “The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES)” Act and an emergency supplemental. Below is a breakdown of what is included in those two parts as part of this legislation.
For more information and resources, go to cramer.senate.gov/covid19.
CARES Act Highlights
Money for American Families
- All U.S. residents with an adjusted gross income of up to $75,000 – or $150,000 for married couples – who are not a dependent of another taxpayer and have a work eligible social security number are eligible for a $1,200 ($2,400 for married couples) one-time tax rebate check.
- They are also eligible for an additional $500 per child.
- The rebate amount is reduced by $5 for each $100 that a taxpayer’s income exceeds the phase-out threshold.
- The amount is completely phased-out for single filers with incomes exceeding $99,000, $146,500 for head of household filers with one child, and $198,000 for joint filers with no children.
“A highlight for North Dakota families is the injection of cash through direct deposit,” said Senator Cramer. Click here to listen.
Employee and Employer Protections:
- Paycheck Protection Program: increases the government guarantee of loans made for the Payment Protection Program under section 7(a) of the Small Business Act to 100 percent through December 31, 2020.
- Tribal-owned businesses eligible for these loans.
- Pandemic Unemployment Assistance: creates a temporary program through December 31, 2020 to provide payment to those not traditionally eligible for unemployment benefits (self-employed, independent contractors, those with limited work history, and others) who are unable to work as a direct result of the coronavirus public health emergency.
- Emergency Increase in Unemployment Compensation Benefits: provides an additional $600 per week payment to each recipient of unemployment insurance or Pandemic Unemployment Assistance for up to four months.
- Temporary full federal funding of the first week of regular unemployment for states with no wait week.
- State participation is optional. The plan provides reimbursement for states that waive the “waiting week” requirement and immediately begin providing Unemployment Compensation benefits.
- Assistance and Guidance in Implementing Programs: requires the Department of Labor to disseminate model legislative language for states, provide technical assistance, and establish reporting requirements related to “short-time compensation” programs.
“The highlight of this entire package is the paycheck protection act. It’s designed specifically to incentivize employers to keep their employees and to incentivize employees to stay with their employer,” said Senator Cramer. “For those who lose their jobs, we’ve included generous unemployment insurance benefit so they can be made whole and get through this rough patch.” Click here to listen.
- $500 billion to the Treasury Department’s Exchange Stabilization Fund, which gives loans, loan guarantees, and other investments.
- Direct lending from this fund includes:
- $25 billion for passenger air carriers, eligible businesses that are certified and approved to perform inspection, repair, replace, or overhaul services, and ticket agents;
- $4 billion for cargo air carriers; and
- $17 billion for businesses important to maintaining national security.
- $454 billion, as well as any amounts available from the funds above in support of the Federal Reserve’s lending facilities to eligible businesses, states, and municipalities.
- Federal Reserve 13(3) lending is a critical tool used in times of crisis to mitigate pressure in financial markets which would otherwise have severe adverse consequences for households, businesses, and the U.S. economy. According to Secretary Mnuchin, these backstops to the Federal Reserve could leverage nearly $4T for loans to businesses of all sizes.
Health and Medicine Support
- Provides liability protections for manufacturers of personal respiratory protective equipment.
- Ensures all COVID-19 testing, and any subsequent vaccine, must be covered by private insurance without cost sharing.
- Reauthorizes and amends Health Resources and Services Administration Grants to boost telehealth and rural health care.
- Provides liability protection for doctors volunteering during the national emergency.
- Reauthorizes health care workforce programs to ensure our workforce is prepared for future issues.
- Commissions a National Academies report on America’s medical product supply chain security. It directs the National Academies to first study the manufacturing supply chain of drugs and medical devices, then to provide Congress with recommendations for strengthening our supply chain.
Support for States
- Coronavirus Relief Fund: provides $150 billion to states, territories, and tribal governments for expenditures incurred due to the public health emergency with respect to COVID—19 in the face of revenue declines, allocated by population proportions, with a minimum of $1.25 billion for states with relatively small populations.
- Emergency State Staffing Flexibility: provides states with temporary, limited flexibility to hire temporary staff, re-hire former staff, or take other steps to quickly process unemployment claims.
- Emergency Unemployment Relief for Governmental Entities and Nonprofit Organizations: provides payments to states to reimburse nonprofits, government agencies, and Indian tribes for half of the costs they incur through December 31, 2020 to pay unemployment benefits.
“Some institutions receiving extra money are the states, which will receive a minimum of $1.25 billion to help cover expenses directly related to fighting the coronavirus,” said Senator Cramer. Click here to listen.
Banking Local Banks
- Temporary Relief for Community Banks: requires federal banking agencies to temporarily reduce the Community Bank Leverage Ratio (CBLR) for qualifying community banks from 9 percent to 8 percent, and to provide for a reasonable grace period if a community bank’s CBLR falls below the prescribed level.
- This expires December 31, 2020, or the date on which the public emergency declaration is terminated.
- Delays penalizing financial institutions for using troubled debt restructuring to help customers.
- Delays the Current Expected Credit Loss (CECL) thru Dec 31, 2020 or the length of the emergency.
- Enhances access to the Central Liquidity Facility (CLF) for credit unions to meet liquidity needs.
Senator Cramer introduced legislation to provide community banks with similar regulatory relief. Click here to learn more.
- Encourages Americans to contribute to churches and charitable organizations in 2020 by permitting them to deduct up to $300 of cash contributions, whether they itemize their deductions or not.
- Increases the limitations on deductions for charitable contributions by individuals who itemize, as well as corporations.
- For individuals, the 50-percent of adjusted gross income limitation is suspended for 2020.
- For corporations, the 10-percent limitation is increased to 25 percent of taxable income.
- This provision also increases the limitation on deductions for contributions of food inventory from 15 percent to 25 percent.
- Waives the institutional matching requirement for campus-based aid programs and allows institutions to transfer unused work-study funds to be used for supplemental grants.
- Requires the Education Department to suspend all payments on federal student loans for six months
- $100 billion to ensure healthcare providers continue to receive support for COVID-19 related expenses and lost revenue.
- $4.3 billion for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
- No less than $250 million to provide preparedness support to facilities around the country through health preparedness grants.
- $20 billion for VA Care.
- $2.1 billion for medical community care, which supports increased demand for care in the community, specifically emergency room and urgent care.
- $15.8 billion for SNAP.
- $8.8 billion for Child Nutrition Programs.
- $14 billion replenishment for the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) this year. The USDA Secretary may also extend the term of a marketing assistance loan for any loan commodity to 12 months.
- $9.5 billion for specialty crops, local food systems, livestock producers, and dairy producers.
- $33 million to cover the costs of labor for overtime food inspection under the Federal Meat Inspection Act.
“We replenished CCC, which is important,” said Senator Cramer.“In addition, we added $9.5 billion for livestock producers, who are often left out.” Click here to listen.
Senator Cramer took action last week to protect cattle producers affected by COVID—19. Click here to learn more.
- $850 million for increased state, local, or tribal law enforcement needs.
- $178 million for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to respond to COVID—19 domestically and internationally.
- $1.03 billion for the Indian Health Service.
- $453 million for the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) for quarantine, welfare assistance, and teleworking capacity needs.
- $300 million funds will be used through Native American Programs to prevent homelessness due to lost. These programs provide flexibility to local tribal governments and Tribally-Designated Housing Entities to respond to local conditions and needs.
- $100 million for food distribution programs on Indian reservations.
- $100 million for food distribution on Indian Reservations through SNAP.
- $69 million for the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) for teacher salary and increased telework capacity.
- Provides the Department of Energy flexibility to postpone a required sale of petroleum from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve through fiscal year 2022.
- $100 million for broadband deployment in rural areas under Rural Utilities Service.
- $25 million for telemedicine and broadband service in rural areas.
- Federal Aviation Administration, Airport Improvement Program (AIP) – $10 billion to maintain operations at our nation’s airports that are facing a record drop in passengers.
- Essential Air Service (EAS) – $56 million provided to maintain existing EAS service to rural communities.
- $5 billion for Community Development Block Grant (CDBG), a flexible program that provides communities and states with funding to provide a wide range of resources to address COVID-19, such as services for senior citizens, the homeless, and public health services.
- $1 billion for the Administration for Children and Families Community Service Block Grant, which funds many nonprofits in North Dakota.
- $1.5 billion for emergency deployment of National Guard personnel.
- $1 Billion for the Defense Production Act without having to ask Congress for approval as long as the purchase is related toCOVID-19.
- $30 billion total for education support to both directly help students facing urgent needs related to coronavirus, and to assist institutions as they cope with the immediate effects of COVID—19 and school closures.
- Elementary and Secondary Education: $13.4 billion.
- Higher Education: $14.2 billion.
- $3 billion in flexible funding to be allocated by governors based on the needs of elementary and schools and institutions of higher education.
- $345 million for states and communities to respond to the workforce impacts and layoffs through the Dislocated Worker National Reserve program.