Coronavirus updates, State News

$2 trillion coronavirus relief package is passed, Leahy secured $2 billion for Vermont

Legislation includes small business aid, direct payments to individuals and increased unemployment compensation

Staff report

President Trump signed a $2 trillion economic stimulus bill Friday afternoon, March 27, after the House passed it earlier that day. The package provides aid to help individuals, families, small businesses and hospitals mitigate the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

“This bill will quickly provide much needed assistance to families who are struggling to make ends meet, small businesses trying to figure out how to keep the lights on, and our medical providers who are caring for our loved ones and neighbors,” said U.S. Representative Peter Welch. “We have more work to do to pull us out of this unprecedented crisis, but this bill is an important step to help us get there. Vermonters know that we are all in this together.”

Highlights of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act (H.R. 748), include:

  • Provides direct payments of $1,200 to individuals making up to $75,000 a year, or $2,400 for couples making up to $150,000. Families would receive $500 for each dependent child.
  • Increases unemployment compensation benefits for recipients by an extra $600 per week. Eligibility is extended to self-employed and independent contractors.
  • Provides $100 billion for hospitals and health care providers on the front lines of this crisis.
  • Makes $367 billion worth of loans and grants available to small businesses.
  • Provides $9.5 billion to support farmers.
  • Creates a $150 billion state relief fund to help states address this pandemic. Vermont will receive $1.25 billion.
  • Stabilizes the SNAP program with $15.8 billion.
  • Vermont U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy announced that Vermont is poised to receive nearly $2 billion in federal resources from the emergency spending package. Leahy, as the vice chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, is a lead negotiator of provisions in the bill that will direct formula funding to the state to combat the spread of COVID-19 and support those on the front lines caring for the sick.

Chief among the federal resources coming to the state will be $1.25 billion through the Coronavirus Relief Fund, established to support state and counties that are addressing the economic devastation brought about by the virus. Leahy pushed for a small state minimum for the $150 billion fund, ensuring that Vermont would receive sufficient support.

Leahy said: “Vermont is already reeling from the impacts of the spread of the coronavirus. I have heard from hundreds of small businesses and entities across the state, struggling to support their employees and maintain their businesses. Meanwhile, our healthcare workers and first responders are dealing with supply shortages and management of care. Vermont had a front seat in writing and negotiating this bill. I am pleased that Vermont will receive this critical assistance, and know more will need to be done.”

Vermont’s $2 billion in federal
assistance will include:

  • $5.4 million to support public health preparedness and response activities through the Centers for Disease Control;
  • $4.7 million in Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding to support the expansion of community health facilities, child care centers, food banks, and senior services;
  • $5 million in Community Service Block Grants to address the consequences of increasing unemployed and economic disruption;
  • $4.3 million in Child Care Development Block Grants to support child care assistance to health care sector employees, emergency responders, sanitation workers and other works deemed essential during the corona virus response;
  • $4.6 million for housing assistance grants through the Department of Housing and Urban Development;
  • $4.1 million in the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP);
  • $20 million to support public transportation emergency relief;
  • $9.6 million to support the state’s airports;
  • $3 million in election assistance grants;
  • $2 million to support state and local law enforcement and corrections through the Byrne-Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) program;
  • $826,000 through the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities to support museums, libraries and other organizations that have been forced to shut their doors due to the virus;
  • $175,000 to support small- and medium-sized manufacturers recover from the economic impacts of COVID-19 through the Manufacturing Extension Partnership program; and
  • $862,000 in Emergency Preparedness Grants through the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA).

“Patrick Leahy did what he has always done, delivered real results for Vermonters,” said Terje Anderson, chair of the Vermont Democratic Party. “With this funding, those working on the front lines of this outbreak, workers, and families impacted by this crisis will get the much needed resources they so urgently need.”

Individuals will begin to receive funds within the next three weeks, legislators claim. Those already enrolled in unemployment will receive their additional $600 either by check or direct deposit. All qualified individuals will receive the $1,200 plus $500 for dependents automatically, too.

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