Evans: Relief Package is Bridge to Next Year and Biden’s Start
WASHINGTON (Dec. 22, 2020) – Congressman Dwight Evans (D-PA-3rd) welcomed agreement on a new Covid relief package, something he has been advocating and voting for since May:
“While a new round of $600 direct payments, also known as ‘stimulus checks,’ seems to me to be getting the most attention, that’s only about 20 percent of the package. There’s much more in this package to deliver help to people NOW.
“Since we are currently limited by both a Republican president and Republican-controlled Senate, we have to get as much relief for people as we can NOW, and come back for more starting in January. We cannot let the perfect be the enemy of the good when so many people are hurting, when so many people are at risk of homelessness or hunger in this pandemic winter.
“This package is a bridge to the new Biden-Harris administration that begins in just over four weeks. President-elect Biden has already expressed his determination to do more to provide relief, revive the economy and crush the virus. I look forward to working with him to do exactly that!”
Evans said the package includes many items he supported and even pressed for. Here are some highlights:
- Housing: $25 billion in emergency rental assistance, along with an extension of the eviction moratorium until Jan. 31. Evans recently led a letter with more than 50 of my colleagues urging the CDC to extend its eviction moratorium even further, to March 31, and he plans to continue pursuing that.
- Enhanced Unemployment Insurance benefits: Averting the sudden expiration of Unemployment Insurance benefits for millions and adding a $300 per week UI enhancement for Americans out of work. Evans supported a second $1,200 stimulus payment in the Heroes Act the House passed in May and will keep pressing for more. In the meantime, the enhanced and extended unemployment benefits will add up to even more help for many people in need than the stimulus payment.
- Help for hungry families: $13 billion in increased SNAP and child nutrition benefits to help relieve the historic hunger crisis that has left up to 17 million children food-insecure.
- Education and child care: The agreement provides $82 billion in funding for colleges and schools, including support for HVAC repair and replacement to mitigate virus transmission and reopen classrooms, and $10 billion for child care assistance to help get parents back to work and keep child care providers open.
- Small businesses: The agreement includes over $284 billion for first and second forgivable PPP (Paycheck Protection Program) loans, $20 billion for targeted EIDL grants to help small businesses, expanded PPP eligibility for nonprofit organizations, and key modifications to PPP to serve the smallest businesses and struggling nonprofits and better assist independent restaurants.
The agreement also includes something Evans has pressed for: dedicated PPP set-asides for lending through community-based lenders like Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) and Minority Depository Institutions (MDIs). Evans said this is vital for making sure more of the aid reaches smaller businesses and minority-owned small businesses.
- Vaccine distribution and Covid testing funding: The package provides billions in urgently needed funds to speed the free and equitable distribution of safe vaccines to as many Americans as possible as soon as possible, to implement a strong national testing and tracing strategy with billions reserved specifically for combating the disparities facing communities of color, and to support health care workers and providers.
“As far as I’m concerned, this package is not the final word, just a way to get some urgently needed help to people NOW, and I will keep pressing for more relief!” Evans said.
Evans represents Pennsylvania’s 3rd Congressional District, which includes Northwest and West Philadelphia and parts of North, South, Southwest and Center City Philadelphia. He serves on the influential House Ways and Means Committee, which oversees Medicare and much of the U.S. health-care system.
(credit for graphic: PA House Democratic Appropriations Committee)