WASHINGTON, D.C. – Representative Adam Smith (D-Wash.) released the following statement after the House of Representatives passed the COVID-19 relief bill:
“Today the House came to an agreement and passed a COVID-19 relief package that will be a public health and economic lifeline to families and businesses that have been reeling due to the pandemic. However, this is nowhere near the amount of support that Americans need right now. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and President Trump have blocked a more robust relief package for seven months as thousands of Americans die every day from COVID-19. We passed this bill to get immediate relief to the people that desperately need it, but we must do more to provide support to struggling families and businesses.
“First and foremost, this package includes significant resources to help combat the pandemic. It includes critical funding for accelerating vaccine distribution that will help make the vaccine free and widely accessible and communicate to the public about the importance of the vaccine. The package also includes funding for local public health departments who are on the frontlines of COVID-19 response and on the brink of cutting staff and services.
“This bill also adds additional economic support for families that are struggling to pay rent, unable to put food on the table, or who are unemployed. The bill makes a significant investment in additional funds for rental and housing assistance while also extending the eviction moratorium through the end of January 2021. It provides direct cash payments of $600, and we successfully fought to expand eligibility to mixed status families who were kept out of direct payments under the CARES Act. The pandemic and economic downturn have caused millions of people to become unemployed – this bill gives an additional $300 per week to each recipient and extends the enhanced pandemic unemployment programs through March 31, 2021.
“Food insecurity has grown significantly during the pandemic and this bill includes additional funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and other food programs for struggling families. The agreement also provides funding for schools and colleges to mitigate virus transmission, and funding for child care assistance to help parents get back to work and keep child care providers open. The package also includes the largest expansion of Pell Grant recipients in over a decade, ensuring more than 1.5 million students will now receive the maximum benefit.
“Over the course of the pandemic, I have met with countless small businesses in dire need of help. This package adds additional funding to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), improves the requirements to make it more accessible for small businesses, and allows some small businesses that are still struggling to get a second round of PPP loans to help retain workers and allow their businesses to survive.
“Every American needs to understand that Mitch McConnell, Congressional Republicans, and President Trump fought against us every step of the way as we worked to provide as much relief as possible. The support provided in this package is necessary, but insufficient. I look forward to working with the incoming Biden-Harris Administration in the new Congress to build on this package.”