Congressman tells News-Press passage would mean help soon
U.S. Rep. Salud Carbajal is praising a stimulus package that the House is expected to vote on next week.
If passed by Congress and signed into law, the bill would mean quick help for small businesses including stores and restaurants, unemployed individuals and others in need during the pandemic, Rep. Carbajal, D-Santa Barbara, told the News-Press Wednesday.
“I think it would be pretty immediate,” he said by phone from Washington, D.C.
“Right now, people are hurting throughout the country and in my district,” Rep. Carbajal added. “We need to get this done.”
The $908 billion Bipartisan Emergency COVID Relief Act of 2020 would extend all pandemic unemployment insurance benefits by 16 weeks, beyond their expiration on Dec. 31. And it would expand federal supplemental unemployment insurance benefits by $300 per week for 16 weeks, from the end of December into April.
The act also provides $300 billion for the Small Business Administration and would allow the hardest-hit small businesses to receive a second forgivable Paycheck Protection Program loan. Eligibility would be limited to small businesses with 300 or fewer employees who have sustained a 30 percent revenue loss in any quarter of 2020.
The act also simplifies the loan forgiveness process for borrowers with PPP loans of $150,000 or less.
The act also contains an “agreement in principle” to provide $160 billion to state, local and tribal governments.
But at this point, the act does not include stimulus checks that would go to taxpayers. Rep. Carbajal said he hopes the bill is revised to include those checks.
The bill is based on a proposal by the House’s bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, of which Rep. Carbajal is a member.
“We came to the realization that the leadership on both sides were having trouble getting to a number,” the congressman told the News-Press.
He said the $908 billion was a good compromise between Democrats who wanted more and Republicans who wanted less. “I think we hit a sweet spot by coming short of a trillion dollars.
“At this point, we seem to have bipartisan support,” said Rep. Carbajal, who expects there are enough votes for the bill to pass in the House and Senate, provided Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell brings the bill to the floor.
Rep. Carbajal said the bill could go up for a vote in the House as early as Monday, but would have to be voted on no later than Dec. 18.
The congressman said the bill emulates the CARES Act that Congress passed in a bipartisan fashion earlier this year.
He noted the new proposal will help both retail outlets and restaurants as well as workers, families, health care providers and others providing critical services.
“This is a shot in the arm,” Rep. Carbajal said. “We need to come together and make sure we’re successful in getting this done now.”
In addition to unemployment benefits, the act covers everything from emergency family and medical leave to rental assistance, forbearance of student loans, rental insurance, eviction forbearance and moratorium on foreclosures.
“This funding is basically a down payment on additional assistance that very likely will be needed again in the upcoming year,” Rep. Carbajal said.
In addition to helping unemployed individuals and small businesses, the act provides money for COVID-19 testing, tracing, and vaccine development and distribution.
Rep. Carbajal, meanwhile, said he supports efforts to separate Santa Barbara, Ventura and San Luis Obispo counties from the Southern California Region used in ICU statistics for COVID-19.
Rep. Carbajal this fall tested positive for COVID-19.
He said he is recovering well but is still dealing with symptoms. “I get fatigued easily and unexpectedly during the day, and I feel like I need to take a nap. Eight o’clock in the evening feels like 1 o’clock at night.”