Alexander: President Signs Into Law Bill to Keep Paychecks Coming For Workers and Relieve Financial Burdens For Americans Hurt By COVID-19

Posted on March 27, 2020

MARYVILLE, Tenn., March 27, 2020 — United States Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) said legislation the president signed into law today provides “sweeping relief to keep paychecks coming for workers, to relieve financial burdens for Americans hurt by COVID-19, and especially, to contain the disease.” Alexander voted for and the Senate passed the legislation Thursday by a vote of 96-0.

The senator said that this unprecedented legislation will provide $1,200 checks for individuals, increase unemployment compensation, defer tax and student loan payments, generate trillions in economic support to keep businesses open and billions to help hospitals buy medical supplies and speed development of tests, treatments and vaccines.

“This is an unprecedented action because this is an unprecedented circumstance. Never before in our history has our government literally shut down our economy in order to contain a disease. And so, if the government's going to do that, the government has to help to pay for it,” Alexander said. “The legislation the president signed today provides sweeping relief to keep paychecks coming to workers, to relieve financial burdens for Americans hurt by COVID-19, and especially, to contain the disease. The most important thing we can do to get the economy back is to make sure everyone can get a test as soon as possible, that the hospitals are fully equipped, that we identify those relatively few people who were sick and isolate them and care for them, and then the rest of us can go back to work and out to eat.”

Alexander, chairman of the Senate’s Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, said the legislation has three goals: One, keep payroll checks coming to workers during the crisis; two, relieve financial burdens on Americans during the crisis; and, three, contain the disease.   

Keep Payroll Checks Coming to Workers:

  • $350 billion to support loans to small businesses, and if they use the loan to pay wages and employee benefits the loan will be forgiven (Paycheck Protection Program)
  • Authorizes the Federal Reserve Board and the Treasury Department to create trillions more in financial support for states, cities, and large businesses so they will be able to stay in business.
  • Expands the emergency paid sick and family leave to workers who were laid off and later rehired by their employers

 Relieve Burden:

  • Checks to individuals and families:
    • $1,200 for individuals and $2,400 for a couple
    • $500 for each eligible child
  • Federal income taxes don’t have to be filed until July 15, estimated taxes can be delayed until October 15, and will make it easier to use retirement savings without penalty
  • Student loan payments delayed for 6 months for 95% of students
  • Gives states the ability to provide unemployed workers an additional $600 per week in Unemployment Insurance benefits, waives the waiting week, and expands eligibility to self-employed and independent contractors
  • $339.8 billion for programs that will go to state and local governments, including:
    • $274 billion for states and local communities to respond to COVID-19
    • $5 billion for  the Community Development Block Grant to states
    • $13 billion for K-12 education
    • $14 billion for higher education
    • $5.3 billion to help children and families, including $3.5 billion for Child Care Development Block Grants, which will provide immediate assistance to child care centers

Contain the Disease:

  • Make all COVID-19 tests free
  • Nearly $127 billion for the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund:
    • $100 billion for hospitals
    • $11 billion for diagnostics, treatments and vaccines
    • $16 billion for the Strategic National Stockpile
  • $4.3 billion for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
    • $1.5 billion for state and local preparedness and response grants
    • $500 million to improve public health surveillance
  • $80 million for the Food and Drug Administration for diagnostics, treatments and vaccines
  • $1.32 billion for Community Health Centers (1,400 centers with 12,000 sites) for COVID-19
  • $20 billion for veterans health care 

Click HERE for full text of the legislation, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act.