Welch Supports Passage of $900 Billion COVID Relief Compromise
WASHINGTON – Rep. Peter Welch voted on Monday to pass a $900 billion bipartisan bill to deliver immediate relief to Americans suffering because of the coronavirus pandemic. The bill includes significant relief for families, individuals, small businesses, schools, and healthcare providers. It also includes robust funding for vaccine distribution and COVID testing and tracing.
“This compromise is not the perfect bill, but it’s critical and long overdue. I supported this relief bill because it will provide a lifeline to individuals, families, and small businesses who have been devastated by the coronavirus pandemic going into a brutal winter,” said Welch. “Though this bill does not go nearly far enough, the relief is immediate and necessary, including additional unemployment benefits for those who have lost their jobs, direct payments to help keep Americans afloat during this difficult time, increased food benefits for hungry families and additional aid for our small businesses. Vermonters need significantly more aid to get through this pandemic, while we wait for vaccines to be widely available. I will continue to fight for more resources for Vermont in the new Congress to help us get back on our feet and build back better.”
The relief package includes the Save Our Stages (SOS) Act, authored and championed by Welch, which will create a $15 billion grant program for independent performance venues that have been forced to close due to the pandemic.
In addition, the $900 billion bill includes:
- $300 a week expanded federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation for 10 weeks for those who have lost their jobs.
- $600 direct payments for every individual making up to $75,000 a year or $1,200 for couples making up to $150,000 per year plus $600 per child. For example, a family of four would receive $2,400.
- A 15% increase in individual Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, known as 3SquaresVT in Vermont.
- $284 billion in additional PPP funds for small businesses devastated by the pandemic.
- $25 billion in rental assistance and an extension of the eviction moratorium through January 2021.
- $20 billion to purchase additional vaccine doses and $9 billion for vaccine distribution.
- $22 billion for states to institute rigorous testing, tracing and mitigation practices.
- $54.3 billion for K-12 public schools to implement additional safety improvements during the pandemic.
- $22 billion for non-profit public and private colleges and universities.
- $10 billion for child care assistance.
- $7 billion in total broadband funding: $3.2 billion for low income families to access broadband, $300 million to fund rural broadband buildout, $250 million for telehealth services, and $65 million to properly map broadband service across the country.
- More than $11 billion in direct aid for agricultural producers.
- $3 billion to support healthcare organizations providing care on the frontlines of the pandemic.
- $4.5 billion for mental health services.
- An extension allowing CARES Act funds to be used through December 2021, a provision championed by Welch.