VIDEO: Carper Votes to Approve Third Coronavirus Relief Package, Bring Much-Needed Relief to Workers, Hospitals and States
Mar 26 2020
Carper: “We must continue working to get help to the families who need it most”
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.) voted to approve a third emergency package, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act (S.3548), that allocates nearly $2 trillion to provide relief for hard-working Americans who currently find themselves in dire situations through no fault of their own. The package includes $1.25 billion in cash grants for the State of Delaware, in addition to millions of dollars in funding for hospitals, unemployment insurance, Medicaid and education programs that will benefit Delawareans as well.
Thanks to the work of Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, this bipartisan bill that the Senate approved today by a vote of 96-0 includes a number of dramatic improvements from the original bill that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell released on Sunday, including, but not limited to:
- $150 billion for state, tribal and local governments that are already stretched thin trying to combat this pandemic, including $1.25 billion for Delaware alone;
- $150 billion for our hospitals, nursing homes and the health care workers who are on the front lines of this public health crisis;
- Funding to purchase much-needed personal protective equipment (PPE) and medical supplies, including hospital gowns, surgical masks, swabs and ventilators;
- $1 billion for the Defense Production Act (DPA) to bolster domestic supply chains, enable companies to quickly ramp up production of personal protective equipment, and funding to allow federal, state and local health agencies purchase that equipment quickly;
- $1,200 cash payment to every adult making less than $75,000 and an additional $500 per child;
- Expansion of the unemployment insurance program to cover more Americans, including self-employed and gig workers, and provide more generous benefits during this crisis, including an extra $600 per week for the next four months and an additional 13 weeks of benefits;
- $350 billion in loan forgiveness grants to small businesses and non-profits so that they can retain employees and pay for other expenses, including rent, mortgage and utilities;
- $30.75 billion to provide emergency support to local school systems and higher education institutions so that they can continue to provide educational services to students;
- $15 billion for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to ensure families can put food on the table;
- An employee retention tax credit for employers to encourage businesses to keep workers on the payroll during this economic downturn;
- $25 billion for our nation’s transit systems which have been significantly impacted by the pandemic;
- $1.5 billion for the Economic Development Administration;
- $492 million to help Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor to prepare and respond to the pandemic;
- $3.3 million to ensure that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission can continue its critical nuclear oversight role and ensure our nation’s nuclear power plants and facilities are operating in a safe manner;
- Unprecedented transparency and accountability measures to protect taxpayer dollars and ensure this $2 trillion is allocated responsibly.
The bipartisan bill includes a number of priorities that Senator Carper fought to include. Senator Carper, a former two-term governor and former Chairman of the National Governors Association (NGA), worked with both Democratic and Republican governors to get states the funding they need to address this public health crisis. In the past week, Senator Carper has repeatedly called for President Trump to fully use his authorities under the Defense Production Act (DPA) to get critical medical supplies to states hardest-hit by this public health crisis. Senator Carper also worked to secure additional funding to ensure that states could expand unemployment insurance for those who need it and continuing providing full Medicaid benefits to enrollees.
Senator Carper took to the Senate floor to discuss the bipartisan work that resulted in today’s bill and the first two coronavirus relief packages that Congress passed over the last few weeks.
“There are a lot of Delawareans and Americans who, in the last week, have found themselves in dire straits they never imagined,” said Senator Carper. “These Americans are counting on us to pull together and get them the help they need right now. During these negotiations, I was reminded of something John F. Kennedy once said that I believe is especially timely right now, ‘Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer but the right answer’…People are looking to us to lead, and I hope and pray that’s exactly what we will continue to do.”
Carper continued, “I want to thank everybody who is working very hard on both sides – Democratic leadership, our caucus, the Republican side and their leadership. I especially want to thank Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer who has been working around the clock in good faith with Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin to put together a bill that I believe will help a lot of hard-working Americans who need it most. America, take heart. We will get through this.”
Along with more robust investments to bolster the health care sector and the economy, this package includes tough new transparency measures to ensure that taxpayer dollars are being spent responsibly. Changes made to the Leader McConnell’s original bill will require increased oversight of the Treasury Department, the loans being given to corporations and the allocation of the $2 trillion in this package. The enhanced accountability provisions include:
- Creation of a new position – the Treasury Department Special Inspector General (IG) for Pandemic Recovery – in order to provide oversight of Treasury loans and investments;
- Creation of a Pandemic Responsibility accountability Committee to protect taxpayer dollars;
- Creation of a Congressional Oversight Commission to enhance legislative oversight of the pandemic response;
- No stock buybacks or dividends for the length of any loan provided by the Treasury Department plus one year;
- Restrictions on any increases to executive compensation;
- Real-time public reporting of the Treasury Department’s transactions as a result of this bill, including the terms of loans, investments or other assistance to corporations;
- Prohibition on businesses controlled by the President, Vice President, Members of Congress and head of Executive Departments getting loans or investments from Treasury programs.
Carper added, “With a package as large and unprecedented as this one, we have an obligation to get it right. This public health crisis we are facing demands urgency, but not at the expense of those who need help most urgently, including our hospitals, health care workers and Americans who suddenly find themselves without a job. An additional 48 hours of communication and collaboration between parties on both sides has resulted in a much better bill that will provide greater relief to the families, workers and small business owners who are struggling at this time. Let’s be clear: there is more work that remains to be done to protect Americans and turn this economic tide, but this is a significant step to ensure that money gets into the pockets of those who need it most and to verify that this funding is distributed in a timely and responsible way. As Winston Churchill famously said, ‘This is not the end. This is not the beginning of the end. This is the end of the beginning.’ Our work is far from over, but this package, in addition to the two packages we passed over the last two weeks, will make a real difference for millions of Americans.”
A full breakdown of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act can be found here.