Larsen Votes For Pandemic Relief

Posted December 22, 2020 at 4:30 am by

Rep. Rick Larsen. Con­tributed Photo

By Rep. Rick Larsen’s Office

On Dec. 21, Rep. Rick Larsen (WA-02) vot­ed to deliv­er much-need­ed relief to fam­i­lies and small busi­ness­es in North­west Wash­ing­ton who con­tin­ue to strug­gle from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“With a third wave of COVID-19 spread­ing across the coun­try, this long-over­due pan­dem­ic relief pack­age address­es the con­tin­ued pub­lic health cri­sis and deliv­ers relief for Wash­ing­to­ni­ans,” said Larsen. “While the bill does not include every one of my pri­or­i­ties, it serves as a down pay­ment to pro­tect Wash­ing­to­ni­ans’ health and eco­nom­ic security.”

“The pub­lic health response will lead to eco­nom­ic recov­ery. I will con­tin­ue to work with com­mu­ni­ty lead­ers, the incom­ing admin­is­tra­tion and Wash­ing­ton state’s con­gres­sion­al del­e­ga­tion to deliv­er real relief for Wash­ing­to­ni­ans in the new year.”

The bipar­ti­san pack­age address­es sev­er­al of Larsen’s pri­or­i­ties based on con­ver­sa­tions with Sec­ond Dis­trict fam­i­lies, busi­ness own­ers and com­mu­ni­ty leaders.

Support for Equitable Vaccine Distribution

The arrival of the first vac­cine dos­es in Wash­ing­ton state is a light at the end of the tun­nel. More than 26,300 peo­ple in the five coun­ties of the Sec­ond Dis­trict test­ed pos­i­tive for COVID-19 and near­ly 800 died since the pan­dem­ic began. The virus con­tin­ues to dis­pro­por­tion­ate­ly affect BIPOC (Black, Indige­nous and Peo­ple of Col­or) com­mu­ni­ties. The relief pack­age includes $69 bil­lion for COVID-19 vac­cine devel­op­ment and equi­table dis­tri­b­u­tion, virus test­ing, con­tact trac­ing and men­tal health programs.

Unemployment Benefits, Direct Payments

Dur­ing the week of Dec. 6, near­ly 3,000 peo­ple who live in the five coun­ties of the Sec­ond Dis­trict filed an ini­tial claim for unem­ploy­ment. The relief pack­age includes a $300 per week increase in fed­er­al unem­ploy­ment ben­e­fits to help unem­ployed Wash­ing­to­ni­ans pay bills and put food on the table. The bill also includes $600 direct eco­nom­ic impact pay­ments for indi­vid­u­als mak­ing up to $75,000 per year and $1,200 for mar­ried cou­ples mak­ing up to $150,000 per year, includ­ing checks for mixed-sta­tus households

Rental and Housing Assistance

Vol­un­teers of Amer­i­ca West­ern Washington’s Dis­pute Res­o­lu­tion Cen­ter has expe­ri­enced an increase of more than 1400 per­cent in cas­es for hous­ing assis­tance since March. One in five renters in Wash­ing­ton state has lit­tle to no con­fi­dence they will have the abil­i­ty to pay next month’s rent. The relief pack­age includes $25 bil­lion in rental assis­tance and an exten­sion of the fed­er­al evic­tion mora­to­ri­um to ensure Wash­ing­to­ni­ans can stay in their homes.

Emergency Funding for Child Care

With many school dis­tricts opt­ing for remote learn­ing, issues sur­round­ing child care are exac­er­bat­ed by the pan­dem­ic. Accord­ing to the Wash­ing­ton State Depart­ment of Com­merce, the capac­i­ty for child care in What­com and San Juan coun­ties decreased by near­ly 50 per­cent between the begin­ning of the pan­dem­ic and the end of June. The relief pack­age includes $10 bil­lion for emer­gency child care assis­tance to help get par­ents back to work and keep child care providers open.

Fighting Hunger

Feed­ing Amer­i­ca esti­mates between 2018 and 2020, hunger increased by 48 per­cent in Sno­homish Coun­ty; by 42 per­cent in San Juan Coun­ty; by 40 per­cent in Skag­it Coun­ty; by 36 per­cent in Island Coun­ty; and by 30 per­cent in What­com Coun­ty. The relief pack­age includes $13 bil­lion to expand the month­ly SNAP ben­e­fit by 15 per­cent and increas­es fund­ing for vital nutri­tion pro­grams to improve fam­i­lies’ access to healthy, nutri­tious meals.

Bridging the Digital Divide

Reliance on remote learn­ing dur­ing the pan­dem­ic has high­light­ed inequities in access to com­put­ers and high-speed inter­net. For exam­ple, Arling­ton School Dis­trict esti­mat­ed that 20 per­cent of stu­dents at the start of the school year lacked ade­quate inter­net access for dis­tance learn­ing. The relief pack­age includes $7 bil­lion to increase broad­band access for stu­dents, teach­ers and families.

Support for Small Businesses, Nonprofits

The Pay­check Pro­tec­tion Pro­gram (PPP) has helped 8,570 Sec­ond Dis­trict small busi­ness­es and non­prof­its save more than 60,000 jobs dur­ing the pan­dem­ic. The relief bill improves and expands the PPP to ensure more small busi­ness­es, includ­ing those in under­served com­mu­ni­ties, can pre­vent lay­offs and keep Wash­ing­to­ni­ans off unemployment.

Support for State, Local, Tribal and Territorial Governments

State, local, trib­al and ter­ri­to­r­i­al gov­ern­ments and employ­ees are on the front­line of pan­dem­ic response in North­west Wash­ing­ton. The relief pack­age includes a one-year exten­sion of eli­gi­bil­i­ty for state, local, trib­al and ter­ri­to­r­i­al gov­ern­ments to pay for pan­dem­ic-relat­ed expens­es under the CARES Act. The pack­age also includes $10 bil­lion for state Depart­ments of Trans­porta­tion and $14 bil­lion for local tran­sit agencies.

More fund­ing for these front­line work­ers will be one of my top pri­or­i­ties in the next Congress.

Saving Aviation Jobs

In response to the pan­dem­ic, Con­gress cre­at­ed the Pay­roll Sup­port Pro­gram (PSP) which helped save 950,000 air­line jobs in Wash­ing­ton state and across the coun­try. The relief pack­age includes $15 bil­lion for an exten­sion of the PSP through March 31, 2021, and $1 bil­lion for avi­a­tion con­trac­tors, like Avi­a­tion Tech­ni­cal Ser­vices in Everett, to pay employ­ees. The relief pack­age also pro­vides $2 bil­lion for the nation’s air­ports and air­port concessionaries.

For a sum­ma­ry of COVID-19 relief includ­ed in the year-end fund­ing pack­age, click here.

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