WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich voted to pass a major, bipartisan emergency COVID-19 response bill to provide immediate and badly-needed relief to New Mexicans grappling with the coronavirus pandemic. The $2 trillion package includes key provisions to support New Mexico, including: direct payments to individual New Mexicans and a major expansion of unemployment benefits, badly-needed direct relief for small businesses, an emergency infusion of resources into hospitals and to support health care workers, reimbursement for state governments like New Mexico that have stepped up to address the crisis, and critical resources for Tribes and vulnerable Native communities.
The bipartisan legislation passed the Senate by a vote of 96-0. It is expected to be passed by the House and then be signed into law by the president.
“My top priority in Congress is making sure New Mexicans have the resources they need to stay healthy and to stay financially afloat. We have passed a bipartisan agreement that will provide urgent and badly-needed aid to working New Mexicans, small businesses, hospitals and health care workers, along with states and Tribes—while including necessary oversight, transparency, and pro-worker conditions on large corporations that seek taxpayer assistance,” Udall said. “I know New Mexicans are worried about protecting the health of their families, and they are worried about paying the bills, keeping their jobs, keeping their businesses open, and putting food on the table during this difficult time. I will keep working tirelessly to direct federal resources to families in our state who need our support now more than ever.”
“My focus has been on securing resources for our health care professionals on the front lines of the coronavirus response and on the economic interests of New Mexico workers and communities most impacted by this crisis. I will not allow New Mexicans to be left behind—whether furloughed workers who need unemployment benefits, small business owners unsure if they will be able to reopen, or tribal and local governments that have taken on major unforeseen costs to take care of their communities,” Heinrich said. “In major legislation like this, the details matter. We needed to stay at the bargaining table to make sure those who actually need help receive it. It was also imperative for Congress and the administration to make sure we spend taxpayer dollars effectively and with proper oversight and accountability. I urge the swift passage of this bipartisan bill so that New Mexicans who are hurting can know that help is on the way. I will keep doing everything I can to support our state's coronavirus response, to bring our economy back to life, and to rebuild thriving communities all across New Mexico after all of this is over.”
The legislation passed today includes key provisions for New Mexicans that Udall and Heinrich championed:
Expanded and restructured unemployment insurance: The bill includes a dramatic expansion of unemployment insurance to cover more New Mexicans and provide more benefits during this crisis. The extended unemployment insurance program increases the maximum unemployment benefit by $600 per week and ensures that laid-off workers, on average, will receive their full pay for four months. It ensures that all workers are protected whether they work for businesses small, medium or large, are self-employed or are workers in the gig economy. The bill also allows furloughed workers to stay on as employees, so that when this crisis ends, they can quickly resume work with their employer and businesses can start running again.
Direct financial support for working New Mexicans: The legislation provides direct payments of $1,200 to individual New Mexicans, $2,400 for married couples and $500 per child. The full payment is available for individuals making up to $75,000 (individual) and $150,000 (married). The amount phases out for those above the income cap.
Relief for small businesses: Includes major provisions to support and provide relief to small businesses negatively impacted by the Coronavirus pandemic and its required public health responses. The bill includes $377 billion in small business aid including up to $10 million Payment Protection Program loans for small business up to 500 employees. The loans will be converted to grants so long as employers maintain their previous payroll through December 31, 2020.
Resources for hospitals and frontline health care workers: The bill provides more than $150 billion for the health care system, including major funding for hospitals and medical facilities. The bill injects $100 billion into our hospitals and health system, just over $1 billion for the Indian Health Service, and billions more into critical investments such as personal and protective equipment for health care workers, testing supplies, increased workforce and training, new construction to house patients, an increase of the Strategic National Stockpile, medical research into COVID-19 and Medicare payment increases to all hospitals and providers to ensure that they receive the funding they need during this crisis.
Support for state and local governments: State governments like New Mexico that are leading the COVID-19 response will get major support from a $150 billion coronavirus expenditures fund. The state of New Mexico, including local governments, will be eligible for up to $1.25 billion to reimburse for costs stemming from the pandemic.
Funding for Tribes and Native communities: The bipartisan Senate agreement will establish an $8 billion Tribal Government Relief fund to ensure Indian Tribes have direct "one stop" access to COVID-19 resources for economic recovery and continuation of essential government services based on local needs. The agreement also contains over $2 billion in emergency supplemental funding for Indian Tribes, urban Indian health programs, and Native communities, including $1.032 billion for the Indian Health Service, with significant funds put in the field through Tribal shares and urban organizations.
Protection for New Mexico’s national lab and federal contractor employees: The bill will ensure paid leave for contractors at New Mexico’s national labs and other federal contractors who cannot perform work on a site that has been approved by the Federal government, including a federally-owned or leased facility or site, due to facility closures or other restrictions, and who cannot telework because their job duties cannot be performed remotely during the public health crisis.
Support for New Mexico’s creative economy: New Mexico’s creative economy supports 1 in 10 jobs in the state, but it is suffering under the coronavirus crisis. The bill includes $150 million in funds for the National Endowment of the Humanities and National Endowments of the Arts to provide grants to local businesses to support the creative economy when cultural and arts venues are shuttered. Many self-employed artists and performers will also be able to access the expanded unemployment insurance.
Funding for critical nutrition programs that serve families: The agreement includes $15.5 billion in additional funding for SNAP, which a quarter of New Mexicans depend on, $8.8 billion for Child Nutrition Programs to ensure children who need it can get meals outside of school, and $450 million for the Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP), which supports food banks across the country that expect to serve even more families due to the economic downturn.
Foreclosure Moratorium and Mortgage Forbearance: Prohibits foreclosures on all federally-backed mortgage loans for 60 days. Provides up to 90 days of forbearance for multifamily borrowers with a federally backed multifamily mortgage loan who have experienced a financial hardship. The bill also places a 120-day moratorium on evictions from any property for which a landlord has a federally-backed mortgage.