I hope that you and your loved ones are staying safe and healthy during this difficult time. Our businesses, workers, and families are paying a heavy price to help us contain the coronavirus, and I want to share some updates on how we are working to help everybody weather this public health crisis together.
On April 23, 2020, Congress passed H.R. 266, the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act, by a vote of 388-5. The President then signed it into law on April 24. I was proud to vote for this $483 billion aid package because it provides additional relief for small businesses, funding for hospitals and healthcare providers, and funding to increase our rate of testing for COVID-19. Below are some of the resources that this law provides, as well as updates on direct cash assistance and unemployment insurance. For more information to help you and your family, please visit my resources page at chu.house.gov/COVIDHelp.
Small Business Loans
We need to keep businesses from going under and ensure workers remain paid. That’s why H.R. 266 provides an additional $310 billion for the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) to help small businesses, 501(c)(3) nonprofits with 500 or fewer employees, and self-employed workers weather the economic storm caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. $60 billion of this funding will be available for smaller lenders, like community banks and credit unions. This law also provides $10 billion to replenish the SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL), which provides immediate disaster grants of $10,000 to small business and nonprofits who have seen significant disruption in their business due to COVID-19.
I also understand that the PPP is not working as intended for every business. That is why on April 23, I spoke at a hearing of the Small Businesses Committee, of which I’m a member, and urged the committee to take additional action to ensure that the federal resources we have directed are reaching the businesses and workers who need them most. I sent a letter to the Treasury Department and Small Business Administration asking them to produce guidance that will require all applicants to PPP to be treated equally by the big banks. This is essential so that big banks like Bank of America and Wells Fargo don’t just approve the applicants of their largest clients, and all small businesses have a fair shot. As the Chair of the Small Business Subcommittee on Investigations, Oversight and Regulations, you can rest assured that I will continue to fight to make sure these programs are working for the small businesses of the San Gabriel Valley.
If you or somebody you know has a small business impacted by COVID-19, please reach out to the Small Business Administration for more information HERE. If you are having problems applying for any of these programs, I encourage you to reach out to the SBA’s local resource partners in the San Gabriel Valley for assistance with your EIDL and PPP applications. You can speak to experts at the Small Business Development Centers (SBDC) in Pasadena (pccsbdc.org or 626-585-3105) and La Verne (lavernesbdc.org or 909-448-1567). You can also call my office for assistance at 626-304-0110.
Resources for Healthcare Workers
In order to end this crisis as soon as possible, we must provide hospitals, clinics, and healthcare providers with the supplies and funds they desperately need to fight back against COVID-19. I have spoken with healthcare providers from the San Gabriel Valley, and they have all requested more personal protective equipment (PPE) to keep them safe on the front lines of this fight, and additional funding to help offset the shock to the healthcare system as we both absorb COVID-19 patients and delay elective and non-essential procedures. I am proud that H.R. 266 delivers an additional $75 billion for hospitals and healthcare providers who have been stretched to the brink by this pandemic. However, we must continue to invest in our healthcare system so that we can contain this public health crisis.
Before we can reopen our economy, we must drastically increase our testing capabilities to understand the spread of the virus in our community. Democrats fought to include $25 billion in H.R. 266 for COVID-19 testing, including for active infections and previous exposure. These funds can be used for manufacturing and distributing tests, procuring supplies and PPE needed to administer tests, developing rapid point-of-care tests, and conducting surveillance and contact tracing. $1 billion of the testing funds can be used to cover tests for those without health insurance.
I’m pleased to say that testing has greatly expanded in the San Gabriel Valley. If you have symptoms, or believe you have been exposed to the virus, please call your doctor for further guidance. For additional information on the accessibility of testing in our area, please visit the websites for LA County and San Bernardino County. Testing is free for everyone and testing appointments can usually be made within a few days.
Direct Cash Assistance
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has been distributing direct cash assistance to eligible individuals and families since April 13. The first round of payments were sent to those who filed their 2018 or 2019 tax returns with direct deposit information. This also included Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) beneficiaries who filed federal tax returns that included direct deposit information. If you filed a tax return, but did not include your bank account information, you can check the status of your payment and update your direct deposit information through the “Get My Payment” portal. This will speed up the IRS’s ability to deliver your check.
If you were not required to file for federal income tax return for 2019, you are still eligible to receive direct cash assistance. The IRS has created the “Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info” portal for those individuals to provide their necessary information and receive their payment as quickly as possible.
By the end of April, adult Social Security retirement, survivor, and disability insurance beneficiaries who did not file tax returns in 2018 or 2019 will receive their rebates if they receive their Social Security benefits via direct deposit. Adult SSI recipients will receive their rebate by early May at the latest, in the same way as they receive their normal benefits.
For more information on direct cash assistance, please visit the IRS FAQ webpage. If you are having trouble accessing your direct cash assistance, please do not hesitate to reach out to my office at 626-304-0110.
With an unprecedented number of people unable to work, or experiencing reduced hours, unemployment insurance is more important than ever. The CARES Act (PL 116-136) expanded unemployment insurance and created the new Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program, which provides benefits to business owners, self-employed individuals, independent contractors, those with limited work history, and others not usually eligible for regular state UI benefits who have been impacted by the pandemic. On top of state unemployment benefits, PUA provides an additional $600 per week in federal unemployment benefits to individuals through July 31, 2020. The California Employment Development Department (EDD) will begin accepting online applications for PUA on Thursday, April 28. For the latest information about this program and to apply when it becomes available, please visit California’s PUA webpage.
Unemployment benefits are still available for those who are not business owners, self-employed, or independent contractors. If you or someone you know has lost their job or had their hours reduced for reasons related to COVID-19, please find more information about unemployment insurance on California’s EDD website.
Resources to Stay Informed
As of Friday, April 24, there have been over 39,684 positive cases of COVID-19 in California, 17,567 in Los Angeles County, and 263 in Pasadena. There have been at least 50,114 deaths across the United States. This situation is evolving rapidly, so to find the most up to date information on the situation from the local to international levels, please visit:
The health and safety of you and your loved ones is of the utmost importance. If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to call my Pasadena office at (626) 304-0110 or my Washington, D.C. office at (202) 225-5464.