News From Washington » Adam SCHIFF

The CARES Act, Congress, Testing and the Future

The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted our lives in ways we never anticipated. Millions of Angelenos are making sacrifices and doing what we can, but there’s no question that this is more than a health crisis – it’s an economic crisis, too. These closures have hit hard small business owners and millions of American workers particularly, and Congress must do everything possible to ensure that they can weather the economic impacts of this crisis so we can come back stronger.
The first bill Congress took up allocated billions for the federal government to ramp up testing, develop treatments and a vaccine, and get emergency help to our health care providers. The next provided for free testing, paid sick leave to millions, and measures to improve family food security. But the most significant legislation followed immediately thereafter – the CARES Act, a bipartisan, $2 trillion relief bill – provides direct relief for individuals and families hurting economically and help for health care workers and hospitals on the front lines, relief for small businesses and assistance to states and cities.
This legislation is still a work in progress, but it is a major investment in what we’ll need to get us through this crisis and address the most immediate economic impacts for Americans.
First, for Americans who have lost their jobs the bill creates a new, $600 a week benefit on top of traditional unemployment insurance.
A major priority for me in the creation of this program was making sure it reached the many people who live and work in our district and are contractors, freelancers or work in the gig economy, including those in the entertainment industry. Traditionally, these types of workers would not be eligible for unemployment benefits, but I helped lead the effort in Congress to ensure these workers are able to apply for enhanced unemployment benefits. I’ll continue to ensure those in the entertainment industry and all freelance, contract and gig economy workers are included in our relief efforts.
Second, the CARES Act also brings relief and assistance to small businesses front and center. The legislation allocated $350 billion specifically for the Paycheck Protection Program that provides no-interest loans and forgives payroll and other costs if the business retains its employees and their salary levels. Because of the intense demand for these funds, they are already running out and Congress must urgently take up a new measure to replenish the funds available. At the same time, it appears that large banks used the application process to help many of their more lucrative customers rather than the small businesses most in need, and programmatic changes should be made to ensure these funds are available to all small businesses, including nonprofits that are now serving some of our most vulnerable citizens.
Finally, it is critical that we put money in the pockets of Americans who need it most – now. That’s why this bill provides individuals making up to $75,000 (or $150,000 for married couples) with direct payments of $1,200 with an additional $500 per each minor child.
Coronavirus is an unprecedented public health and economic crisis and it’s clear that the impacts of this disease will be felt for years. I’m determined to fight for more support for states and cities that are bearing the brunt of the fight against the pandemic, as well as more support for hospitals, health care workers, and other essential workers who are keeping our nation running.
I have also cosponsored legislation, the Paycheck Guarantee Act, that would have the federal government guarantee payroll of all businesses, large and small, until we get through this crisis. This model is simple, fast, equitable, less bureaucratic and doesn’t let anyone — the banks or the President – pick the winners or losers.
We will also need the Administration to place a far greater priority on urgently ramping up testing so that we can reopen without risking more disease and death.
Since the passage of the CARES Act, I have been in constant contact with my constituents to get their feedback on what is working or not working and I welcome your feedback. This crisis will come to an end and we will make it through – together.

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) represents California’s 28th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives.