Coronavirus Crisis: Actions By Congress

Coronavirus Main Page

Actions By Congress To Address Crisis

Direct Payments To Americans

Extended Unemployment Benefits

Help For Workers

Support For Small Businesses
Information On Taxes

Help For Students and Children

Rent, Mortgages, And Evictions


Actions Taken By Congress To Address The Coronavirus Crisis

As the coronavirus spreads throughout our country, the devastating impact of this pandemic becomes clearer each day. Congress and the federal government have passed several key pieces of legislation to address both the health impacts and the financials impacts being felt across the nation.

March 5, 2020
Congress passed an $8.3 billion emergency funding focused on strengthening the public health response via vaccine development and support to public health providers, increasing state resources to address the crisis, and aiding small businesses.

General summary of the first emergency package, from the House Appropriations Committee.

March 18, 2020
Congress passed a $100 billion funding bill focused on providing free coronavirus testing, strengthening food security, increasing health access via Medicaid, enhancing unemployment insurance, and establishing new emergency paid sick and paid family leave for workers — but only for certain employees.

General summary of the second emergency package, from the House Appropriations Committee.

March 27, 2020
Congress passed a $2 trillion economic relief bill, the CARES Act, which provides critical cash assistance and benefits to people who need it; grants crucial resources to small businesses; helps prevent layoffs; and delivers urgently needed and vital funds to hospitals, schools, and local governments.

General summary of the CARES Act, from the Senate Democrats.

Key Provisions Of The CARES Act

Here are just a few of the numerous initiatives in the CARES Act directly benefiting the residents of California.
  • A $150 Billion State and Local Coronavirus Relief Fund:  Creates a $150 billion State and Local Coronavirus Relief Fund to provide states and localities additional resources to cope with the coronavirus pandemic.  It is estimated that our state of California will receive approximately $15.3 billion in desperately needed funds to benefit our state’s residents.
  • $260 Billion in Dramatically Expanded Unemployment Benefits:  Includes numerous provisions to improve unemployment benefits including providing an additional $600 per week through July 31, providing an additional 13 weeks of federally-funded benefits, and expanding eligibility to include workers in the gig economy and self-employed workers. Learn more… <link to unemployment benefits page detailed below>
  • Immediate Direct Cash Payments to Lower and Middle-Income Americans:  Provides for immediate, direct cash payments to lower-and middle-income Americans of $1,200 for each adult and $500 for each child, beginning to phase out at an annual income of $75,000 for an individual and $150,000 for a household.  These payments will provide individuals with the cash they need right now to survive with much of the economy currently shut down. Learn more… <link to direct payments page detailed below>
  • More Than $375 Billion in Small Business Relief:  Provides more than $375 billion in small business relief, including $349 billion for forgivable loans to small businesses to pay their employees and keep them on the payroll; $17 billion for debt relief for current and new SBA borrowers; and $10 billion in immediate disaster grants. Learn more… <link to small business page detailed below>
  • Nearly $200 Billion for Our Hospitals, Health Care Workers, and Health Research:  Provides an investment of about $200 billion in our hospitals, health systems, and health research, including expanding funding for the personal protective equipment desperately needed by our health care workers, including ventilators, n95 masks, gowns, gloves, etc.
  • More Than $100 Billion in Additional Emergency Appropriations, Including the following:
    • Transit Agencies:  Provides $25 billion to transit agencies, which have all seen a drastic drop in revenues as social distancing has been implemented.  This funding is to be used to protect the jobs of the employees of the transit agencies, funding their paychecks during this public health emergency. Our state of California will receive $3.75 billion under this program.
    • HUD Emergency Solution Grants:  Provides $2 billion for HUD Emergency Solution Grants to states that will be distributed by formula. These grants are designed to address the impact of the coronavirus among individuals and families who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, and to support additional homeless assistance, prevention, and eviction prevention assistance.  Of this $2 billion, our state will receive $237 million. In addition, the bill provides an additional $2 billion for these grants that will be allocated by HUD to the most hard-pressed areas.
    • Child Care and Development Block Grant:  Supports childcare and early education by providing $3.5 billion for the Child Care and Development Block Grant.  Our state will receive $348 million under this emergency appropriation. Learn more… <link to child care page detailed below>
    • Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP):  Provides $900 million to help low-income families pay their heating and cooling bills.  Our state will receive $75 million for this purpose during this public health emergency.
    • Byrne-Justice Assistance Grant Program:  Provides $850 million for this program, giving additional support to state and local law enforcement agencies, thereby allowing them, for example, to obtain the personal protective equipment and other medical items they may need during this public health emergency.  Our state will receive $96 million under this appropriation.
    • CDC Coronavirus State, Local and Tribal Grants Minimum Awards:  Provides about $750 million in CDC State, Local, and Tribal Grants Minimum Awards to help agencies cope with the public health emergency.  The minimum award for our state is $42 million.  In addition, states can apply for additional funds above their minimum award, based on their needs.
    • Election Assistance:  Provides $400 million for Election Assistance Grants for states to help prepare for the 2020 elections.  Coronavirus is already resulting in the postponement of some primaries and this funding can help states make voting safer for individuals.  Funding can be used, for example, to increase the ability to vote by mail, expand early voting, and expand online registration.  Our state will receive $36 million for these purposes.