U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-TX, supported the legislation. He said members of Congress are doing everything they can to address the nation’s needs during this time of social distancing, school closures and industry slowdowns.
“This is a time of unprecedented emergency,” Cornyn said at an April 1 webinar sponsored by the Greater Houston Partnership. “Certainly, in my lifetime, I never thought I would vote on—much less for—a $2 trillion-plus spending bill. But I believe that as President [Donald] Trump has said that the country is on a war footing and that we should approach this the way we would any other national, and indeed, international, emergency.”
The CARES Act includes $100 billion for hospitals responding to COVID-19 and $16 billion for personal protective equipment, such as masks and gloves, to keep health care providers and first responders safe.
As layoffs and claims for unemployment benefits continue to rise across the nation, Cornyn said the legislation will also provide immediate relief for families struggling to pay their bills by direct-depositing cash via the IRS into Americans’ accounts. A family of four making less than $150,000 annually should receive up to $3,400 within two to three weeks of the bill’s signing date, he said.
“People are losing their jobs and paychecks, and everyone’s hunkering down at home and wondering how this will all end,” he said. “So the first thing we wanted to do in this latest legislation is get cash in the hands of people who are not receiving a paycheck through no fault of their own.”
Additionally, the bill strengthens the unemployment insurance system, increasing benefits by $600 a week and extending the duration of unemployment insurance benefits by an additional 13 weeks, according to Cornyn.
The CARES Act also established the Paycheck Protection Program for small businesses employing up to 500 individuals. Through the U.S. Small Business Administration, the program provides eight weeks of assistance to help cover payroll, rent and other expenses at a 0.5% interest rate.
“We’re hoping to minimize the disruption this will have on businesses that you’ve worked so hard to build and avoid as many layoffs as possible,” Cornyn said. “We know you don’t need anymore red tape or bureaucracy—you need a lifeline, and that’s what this legislation is designed to provide.”
Cornyn said his staff is working with business owners to aid in the process of applying for assistance. Follow his Facebook page for the latest COVID-19 updates and more information on the CARES Act.