$2 Trillion Package Includes Expanded Unemployment Benefits for Freelance, Gig, and Contract Workers in Entertainment and Other Industries
Washington, DC – Today, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) released the following statement in support of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
“Our nation is facing a health and economic crisis unlike any we have faced in our history. We have the fastest growing rate of coronavirus cases in the world, affecting every state in the country, and a rapidly accelerating increase in fatalities. And today, we see clearly the full economic havoc wreaked by this virus, with new unemployment claims over 3 million in a single week nationwide and more than 1 million in California alone.
“As daunting as this pandemic is, I have full confidence that we will get through it, but doing so requires us to act boldly today to mitigate the economic damage, protect working families, massively invest in our public health infrastructure and much more. This bill is not perfect, but thanks to the advocacy of House and Senate Democrats, it is a bill that prioritizes American workers and families and is of the scale this crisis demands. We must pass it as soon as possible so we can begin to get Americans the help they need, while staying clear-eyed that more will be needed.
“This bill accomplishes a number of the goals we initially laid out: it provides direct relief for individuals and families hurting economically, help for healthcare workers and hospitals on the front lines, relief for small businesses, and assistance to the states most affected.
“This bill includes a dramatic expansion of unemployment insurance to cover more Americans, provides benefits that match the depth of the economic crisis, and will ensure that workers who have lost their jobs will receive critical income for at least the next four months. I’m particularly pleased that the bill covers the millions of Americans who work as contractors, freelancers, in the gig economy, and a variety of other employment structures. This concern acutely affects many of my constituents who, for example, work in the entertainment industry and have non-traditional employment. I was proud to play a leadership role with House and Senate negotiators on this issue and I’m grateful that this bill covers them, and many others.
“Additionally, millions of families and individuals hardest hit by this economic crisis will receive a direct cash payment to help them pay the bills and keep food on the table.
“This bill also puts relief and assistance to small businesses front and center. Millions of small businesses are struggling to stay afloat and pay their employees. The legislation provides $350 billion in no-interest loans, and forgives payroll and other costs if the business retains its employees and their salary levels. This will put us in a stronger position once the virus is controlled because small businesses are the engine of our economy.
“I’m also pleased at the level of support – over $150 billion – for healthcare workers on the front lines of this pandemic, hospitals, and the healthcare system to ensure that we can provide needed treatment to patients.
“This bill also includes an additional $7 billion for federal affordable housing and homelessness programs to provide rental assistance so affected low-income families can remain in their homes, and to prevent evictions, provide rapid-rehousing, and operate emergency shelters for people experiencing or at risk of homelessness. It is likely more action on this front will be necessary.
“Finally, it’s important to note that implementation of this legislation is going to require constant oversight, from ensuring that Americans are receiving the relief they need to making sure these funds are appropriately allocated to pay workers. Democrats demanded that the $500 billion set aside to help big businesses mitigate the economic effects of this crisis have important oversight and transparency protections, and that workers are put first. We were also able to secure language preventing the President and his family from receiving a bailout, and making sure that corporations don’t use it for stock buybacks, executive compensation or other abuses of the past.
“Once this bill passes, I will prioritize efforts to make sure my constituents can access the relief it provides. As we begin to work on the next package, we will need to do even more to help renters and students, states and cities, and to make treatment for the virus free, along with additional support for individuals and families. These are uncertain times, but I am confident that America is up to the challenge. We will prevail over this disease and we will do it together as a community, state, and country.”
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