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Congressional Action

I believe that this outbreak calls for thorough, robust, and bipartisan action. I’m proud of Congress for mobilizing quickly and passing a smart, bipartisan bill that provided $8.3 billion in emergency funding for prevention, preparedness, and response efforts. The House passed an additional bill to implement paid sick leave and emergency unemployment benefits, provide free coronavirus testing, and expand food security programs.

This is a rapidly evolving situation that we know now will unfortunately not be resolved quickly. Over the coming weeks and months, we will continue to pass legislation to keep our communities safe and healthy. We will also need to more broadly address the growing economic crisis that has resulted from the coronavirus pandemic. Congress is already hard at work on a stimulus package to support the industries most affected by the crisis and we will continue to develop legislation to ensure that hard-working Americans who are facing reduced hours or even layoffs aren't left out in the cold.

Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act

On March 6, Congress passed, and the President signed into law, $8.3 billion in supplemental funding for state and local efforts to curb the spread of the disease. This bill was the first step Congress took to address the unprecedented challenge COVID-19 poses, funding our initial response by funding research and development, building capacity and protecting small business owners.

The Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act:

  • Provides support to local and state health agencies, on the frontline of the emergency response effort
  • Funds vaccine and treatment development
  • Offers loans to small businesses affected by social distancing policies and mandated closures

Specific provisions include:

  • $61 million to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to develop treatments, therapies, devices, and vaccines
  • Allows SBA to access loan subsidies to provide an estimated $7 billion in small business disaster loans
  • $2.2 billion for the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to support federal, state and local public health departments
  • A total of $3 billion across government agencies like the National Institute of Health (NIH) and Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) to research and develop vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics
  • $1 billion for procurement of drugs and supplies
  • Direct support to Community Health Centers to help build surge capacity
  • Direct support to our global health programs to help curb spread abroad

Families First Coronavirus Response Act

On March 14, the House passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, putting the health, safety and financial security of working Americans first. This bill builds on the $8.3 billion emergency supplemental and is the second in a series of steps Congress must take as we continue to respond to this crisis. On March 18, the Senate went on the pass the House bill and the President immediately signed it into law.

Specifically, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act:

  • Guarantees free coronavirus testing
  • Establishes 2 weeks of paid leave for those affected
  • Enhances unemployment insurance for those industries hardest hit by social distancing policies
  • Expands food security programs for seniors, students, and working families
  • Increases Medicaid funding to states

Specific provisions include:

  • $500 million for WIC
  • $400 million for the Emergency Food Assistance Program
  • $15 million for the Internal Revenue Service to implement tax credits for paid sick and paid family and medical leave
  • $250 million for senior nutrition programs
  • $1 billion for testing including reimbursement for uninsured
  • Maintenance of school lunch programs
  • Suspension of the work and work training requirements for SNAP
  • $1 billion for unemployment compensation
  • Coverage for testing in all public health programs, such as VA, DOD, Indian Health & Medicare
  • Temporary increase the Medicaid federal medical assistance percentage (FMAP)

Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act

On March 27, Congress passed a historic $2.2 trillion economic stimulus and relief package aimed at continuing our coronavirus public health response and stabilizing our economy. This third bill is the largest and most comprehensive step Congress has taken yet to address the crisis and prioritizes our healthcare delivery system, small businesses, workers, students and provides direct monetary assistance to most Americans as the country continues to social distance. Importantly Democrats fought to ensure this bill includes real transparency and accountability measures so that these crucial taxpayer dollars get into the hands of those who need the most help.

The CARES Act:

  • Provides $130 billion to hospitals, community health centers, and nursing homes
  • $1,200 direct assistance to most Americans; $2,400 for married couples plus $500 for each child
  • 4 months of expanded unemployment insurance for all workers, which acts as “paycheck replacement” with an additional $600 per week
  • $377 billion in relief for small businesses

Specific provisions include:

  • $150 billion in assistance to state and local governments
  • $25 billion in support for public transit systems
  • Over $7 billion in Housing assistance
  • Small Business Support:
    • $349 billion for forgivable loans to small businesses to pay employees and keep them on the payroll
    • $17 billion for debt relief for current and new SBA borrowers
    • $10 billion in immediate disaster grants
  • $260 billion for Unemployment Insurance:
    • Additional $600 unemployment compensation onto of other unemployment benefits
    • 13 weeks of emergency unemployment compensation for workers who exhaust regular benefits
    • Expanding Access: Allow part-time, self-employed, and gig economy workers to access UI benefits
  • $400 million in election assistance for the states
  • $200 million for the FCC Connected Care Pilot Program for help with telehealth
  • $19 billion for our nation’s veterans, including funds for direct medical care, telemedicine, and retirement homes
  • Creation of Treasury Department Special Inspector General for Pandemic Recovery to provide oversight of Treasury loans and investments and a Pandemic Response Accountability Committee to protect taxpayer dollars
  • Creation of a Congressional Oversight Commission to enhance legislative oversight of pandemic response
  • Includes tax relief encouraging employers to implement student loan repayment programs that will exclude up to $5,250 in qualifying student loan repayments paid by the employer on behalf of the employee.
  • Halt all payments on student loans as long as six months
  • $13.5 billion for elementary and secondary education
  • $14.2 billion for higher education
  • $100 million for correctional officer overtime, PPE, and inmate medical care
  • $850 million for state and local law enforcement and jails

Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act

On May 15, the House passed the HEROES Act, a $3 trillion coronavirus relief package, which would provide another round of stimulus checks to millions of eligible Americans and extend expanded unemployment benefits. The bill also includes critical provisions to support frontline workers and their families, expand coronavirus testing and tracing, as well as increased funding for election security. House Democrats passed an updated version of the bill on October 1, 2020.

Despite the bipartisan passage of these essential measures in the House, Senate Republicans have failed to take action and continue to block the HEROES Act from coming to the Senate floor for a vote.

Heroes Act Toplines

The HEROES Act:

  • Provides $75 billion in funding for coronavirus testing and containment measures
  • Gives a second round of stimulus checks of $1,200 directly to Americans
  • Establishes a $200 billion “Heroes’ Fund” to support frontline workers, including assistance for childcare and family care for essential workers
  • Extends $600 weekly unemployment benefits to January 2021

Specific provisions include: 

  • $10,000 loan cancellations for student loan debt forgiveness to “economically distressed borrowers”
  • Housing protections:
    • $100 billion to low-income renters to protect them from eviction 
    • $75 billion to homeowners to assist with mortgages and avoid foreclosure
  • $25 billion in funding to support the U.S. Postal Service
  • Funding for State and Local Governments:
    • $500 billion to state governments
    • $375 billion to local governments
    • $20 billion to U.S. territories
    • $20 billion to tribal governments
  • $3.6 billion to states to prepare for upcoming elections and to increase election security
  • Support for Farmers:
    • $50 million to support farmers, farmers markets, and local food producers
    • $50 million to fledgling farmers and ranchers

American Rescue Plan

On March 11, 2021, President Joe Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 into law. This legislation is President Biden's $1.9 trillion coronavirus rescue package designed to facilitate the United States’ recovery from the devastating economic and health effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

graphic outlining components of american rescue plan

The American Rescue Plan:

  • Provides $50 billion to pay for additional COVID-19 testing and contact tracing, and $7.66 billion to help increase the size of the public health workforce.
  • Includes $350 billion in aid to states, cities, tribal governments, and U.S. territories to help replace lost tax revenue due to the pandemic.

Specific provisions include:

  • Direct $1,400 stimulus payments to people making $75,000 or less annually, building on the $600 payments in the second stimulus package to reach the $2,000 mark originally requested by then-President Donald Trump in December.
  • Extends Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) benefits of $300 a week through September 6, 2021, and increases the total number of weeks available from 50 to 79.
  • Increases the Child Tax Credit maximum to $3,000 a year for each child ages 6 to 17, and $3,600 for each child under age 6, for couples who make $150,000 or less and single parents who make $112,500 or less.
  • The Restaurant Revitalization Fund, a new program for restaurants and bars, allocates $28.6 billion in pandemic assistance grants.
  • Sets aside $122 billion for K–12 education through September 30, 2023 and almost $40 billion for colleges and universities to provide emergency financial aid grants for students through September 30, 2023.
  • Extends the 15% increase in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits and provides $1.15 billion to states for SNAP administration, as well as $1 billion for nutrition assistance programs in the U.S.​
For the latest information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention please visit cdc.gov/coronavirus.
For the latest information from the Chicago Department of Public Health, please visit Chicago.gov/coronavirus.

Last updated June 24, 2021