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Schumer outlines $54B in COVID aid to NY

Stefanik, both NY senators vote for $900B relief bill, president wants more

Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-New York, speaks to upstate New York media on a Zoom conference call Monday, Dec. 21 before he voted for the $900 billion COVID relief bill. (News photo — Andy Flynn)

LAKE PLACID — Both New York senators — Democrats Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand — and Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-Schuylerville, voted Monday, Dec. 21 for the $900 billion pandemic relief package aimed at delivering financial help to citizens and businesses and to help states pay for COVID-19 vaccinations.

The Senate cleared the package by a 92-6 vote after the House approved it by another lopsided vote, 359-53, according to The Associated Press.

The bill was sent to President Donald Trump for his signature, but he said Tuesday that he may not sign the bill as is. That could mean a veto. He said, in part, that lawmakers should increase the direct payments to $2,000 per person, or $4,000 per couple.

The bill adds a temporary $300 per week supplemental jobless benefit and establishes a $600 direct payment to most Americans — both a 50% reduction from the $2.2 trillion CARES Act relief package passed by Congress in March.

“I would have been for $1,200 each, but this is as much as leader (Mitch) McConnell would go for,” Schumer said Monday. “It is the second biggest relief bill in the nation’s history, but given the extent of this crisis, there’s much more to be done. And when we have President Biden after Jan. 20, we’re going to fight for more money.

“… Clearly, it’s not a stimulus bill; it’s an emergency survival bill.”

The House and Senate both have at least two-thirds majority to override a presidential veto if a new vote stays the same as Monday.

Schumer held a Zoom conference call Monday afternoon, before both houses voted on the bill, to talk with upstate New York media outlets about the relief package specifics. The Lake Placid News was on the call.

“This relief deal brings some real relief to people in upstate New York,” Schumer said. “It delivers about $54 billion to New York workers, families, renters and small business.”

It also directs funding to the New York state government for vaccines and education.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, a key negotiator, said on CNBC on Monday morning that the direct payments would begin arriving in bank accounts next week. That was before the president voiced his opinion.

Gillibrand said in a prepared statement that she voted for the $900 billion aid package in order to get urgent relief to New York families.

“This bill has many important provisions that will help families and small businesses, including enhanced unemployment benefits, direct payments, small business aid, SNAP benefits, and funding for vaccine distribution, hospitals and schools,” Gillibrand said.

Stefanik sent out a statement as well on Monday before voting for the bill.

“Throughout the past several months, I have consistently advocated for direct federal support for our hospitals and community health centers, small businesses, farmers, schools, individuals and families who have faced significant challenges in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Stefanik said. “I have spoken with countless local elected officials, community leaders, and constituents to identify their specific needs and raise their issues at the federal level.”

Schumer outlined the details below of what New York state will get from this aid package.

Direct aid to state government

– $5.8 billion, Education Stabilization Fund

– $4 billion, Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund, provides relief to K-12 public schools across the State of New York.

– $1.4 billion — Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund, directs funds to New York’s university system, like SUNY and CUNY.

– $313 million –Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund, the governor can use these funds at his discretion to support the state’s K-12 education and higher education needs related to COVID-19.

Including a set aside that will be prioritized to private schools serving low-income students who have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic

– $200 million — Emergency Transit Relief will support county bus services and upstate transit agencies.

– $426 million — Critical aid to the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) to backstop declining revenues and support construction jobs.

– $105.5 million — Relief for New York airports to continue operating safely during the pandemic. Upstate airports will receive: $6.4M for the Hudson Valley, $6.5M for the Capital Region, $6.9M for Central New York, $4.8M for the Finger Lakes, $7.6M for Western New York, and $4.1M for the Southern Tier.

COVID relief

– $1.6 billion — Vaccine, Testing, and Tracing, and Flexible Local Health Funding. $810M for NYS and $810M for NYC

– $135 million for NYC for vaccine distribution

– $135 million for NYS for vaccine distribution

– $675 million for NYC testing, tracing, isolation support and COVID mitigation

– $675 million for NYS testing, tracing, isolation support and COVID mitigation

Rent, eviction relief

– $1.3 billion — Emergency Rental Assistance funding. This is a historic and unprecedented federal emergency rental and utility assistance program. It will assist multiple New York government entities and by extension help provide critical aid to keep thousands of New Yorkers safely in their homes.

The CDC federal eviction moratorium will also be extended until Jan. 31, 2021, and can be extended further by the next administration.

Emergency child care grants

– $465 million — Child Care Development Block Grants — These funds ensure that the child care sector will continue to assist essential workers and working families, and to support child care providers in meeting their increased operation costs during the pandemic.

FEMA Disaster Relief Fund

– $1 billion — FEMA estimates that in Fiscal Year 2021 New York will receive about $1 billion in FEMA aid for COVID-19 alone.

Direct checks, unemployment insurance, FEMA funerals

Over $6.5 billion for NY in Enhanced Unemployment Compensation. This bill provides billions in additional federal relief for struggling New Yorkers by extending the historic unemployment insurance reforms established in the CARES Act through March 14, 2021. Importantly, it reinstates the critical lifeline of the enhanced unemployment assistance, providing an additional $300 per week on top of all state and federal unemployment benefits.

The bill also:

– Extends the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, which provides unemployment benefits to the self-employed, freelancers, gig workers, part-time workers and other New Yorkers in non-traditional employment, and increases the number of weeks of PUA benefits an individual can claim from 39 to 50.

– Provides 24 additional weeks of federally-funded unemployment insurance benefits to New Yorkers who have exhausted their regular state benefits.

– Continues the full federal financing of state Shared Work programs, allowing thousands of New York employers to keep their valued employees on payroll during this downturn.

– Delivers a federally-funded $100 per week additional “mixed-earner” benefit to New Yorkers who have a combination of traditional (W-2) and independent employment (1099) income and are disqualified from receiving PUA because they are still eligible for regular state benefits.

– $9 billion for New Yorkers — Direct cash payments to New Yorkers, including $600 for individuals making up to $75,000, $1,200 for couples making less than $150,000, and an additional $600 per child. This amounts to $2,400 for a family of (4).

– $260 million — FEMA’s funeral assistance – financial aid to those who have lost a loved one among the over 35,000 deaths in New York caused by COVID — which comes at no cost to the state. This historic use of FEMA’s funeral assistance program ensures those grappling with unspeakable loss are not also saddled with the financial burden of exorbitant funeral costs.

Relief for small businesses, families, live venues, cultural institutions

Over $20 billion for New York — Small Business Administration Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) to provide a second round of forgivable loans to New York small businesses, including restaurants, nonprofits and grant assistance to very small, underserved businesses and live venues, independent movie theaters, and cultural institutions, as well as:

– New dedicated set-aside for PPP lending through Community Development Financial Institutions, Minority Depository Institutions, and other community lenders to reach minority-owned and other underserved small businesses and nonprofits.

– New dedicated set-aside for very small businesses to gain greater access to PPP.

– New larger forgivable loans for the restaurant and hospitality industries and the ability to use funds for PPE, outdoor dining enhancements, and more.

“SAVE OUR STAGES” ($15 billion nationally) — Dedicated relief for Broadway, comedy halls, music venues, other live entertainment, independent movie theaters, and cultural institutions — New York is positioned to get a large share of the $15 billion.

– Housing cooperatives, tourism organizations, and local newspaper, TV and radio stations made eligible for PPP.

– $10,000 SBA grants will be available for very small and underserved businesses in low-income communities.

– Provides $3.5 billion to resume debt relief payments of principal and interest on small business loans guaranteed by the SBA under the 7(a), 504 and microloan programs.

– Includes $2 billion to enhance SBA’s core programs, including 7(a), Community Advantage, 504, and the Microloan program, by making them more affordable and useful to small businesses.

– SBA Microloan Program is funded at $57 million to provide technical assistance and leverage about $64 million in microloans for minority-owned and other underserved small businesses.

The bill also extends and expands the refundable Employee Retention Tax Credit. The extension of this tax credit, through July 1, 2021, will help keep thousands of additional New Yorkers on payroll and small and mid-size employers all across New York afloat.

$15 billion to renew the CARES Act Airline Payroll Support Program which will save thousands of New York airline jobs by keeping workers on payroll without furloughs or reducing pay rates and benefits until March 31, 2021 New York will receive sizable share of these funds.

$1 billion in CARES ACT Contractor Payroll Support Program will help thousands of New York’s aviation industry contractor workers keep their paychecks.

Broadband

– $7 billion — Emergency Benefit for Broadband Service to provide free or low-cost broadband service to low-income families or those who have been recently laid off or furloughed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. New York will receive sizable share of these funds.

Hospitals, health centers

– $1 billion to New York in support and relief for hospitals, mental health, community health centers and providers

Nutrition assistance

– $13 billion nationally in Nutrition Assistance (NY will get a sizable share), which includes:

– A 15% increase in SNAP benefits from January 2021 through June 30, 2021 to support the nearly 2.8 million New Yorkers who receive benefits

– Increased access to nutrition benefits by waiving college student work requirements

– Provides $5 million to add additional retailers to online SNAP, including for farmers markets and direct to consumer sales

– Additional funding for the Emergency Food Assistance Program to fund the continued work of New York’s food banks

– Funding for senior nutrition through the Commodity Supplemental Food Program and Meals on Wheels

– Includes critical improvements to the Pandemic-EBT program, which provides additional nutrition benefits for families with children who are eligible for free school lunches to help cover the cost of meals children would have otherwise received at school

– Allocates $4.6 billion nationally to expand P-EBT by extending the program to help cover cost of meals for kids enrolled in childcare programs

– Nutrition assistance grants for Puerto Rico, American Samoa, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands

– Funds to support the food supply chain through food purchases, donations to food banks, and support for local food systems

Agricultural assistance

– $13 billion nationally in Agricultural Assistance (NY will get a sizable share), which includes:

– $400 million set aside to support dairy product donations to encourage donations of dairy products and minimize food waste

– $325 million set aside for specialty crops, including $225 million for supplemental payments to producers of specialty crops for losses in 2019 and $100 million for Specialty Crop Block Grants (SCBG) to support investments in specialty crop marketing, increasing training, and research investments

– $100 million for the Local Agriculture Market Program (LAMP), which supports the development and expansion of local food businesses and markets, and helps increase consumer access to locally and regionally produced agricultural products

– $28 million in state block grants to support farmer and rancher stress management and mental health

Fisheries assistance

– $300 million available nationally for assistance to fisheries participants to help mitigate coronavirus-related economic impacts

– $30 million set aside for Tribal fisheries of federally recognized Tribes and Alaska Native groups

– $15 million set aside for fishery participants in states bordering the Great Lakes