US Virgin Islands Hotel & Tourism Association
Washington, DC – Today, Congresswoman Stacey E. Plaskett applauded the passage of historic Families and Workers-First legislation, which will now go to the President’s desk for his signature. The Congresswoman released the following statement:
“I am proud to support this historic piece of legislation, which will bring urgently needed relief to families and small businesses all across this country, including the Virgin Islands. During this time of stress and uncertainty, every American needs to know that their government is there to support them without hesitation. This latest piece of legislation is an important step in our ongoing effort to act decisively on behalf of the American people and ensure workers and families have the resources they need today and throughout this unprecedented crisis.
“America is currently facing a grave health emergency with a serious impact on our economy. The coronavirus bill that Senate Republicans put forward last weekend was a non-starter and put corporations first, not America’s workers. The Republican bill gave big corporations billions in taxpayer dollars with no real requirement to protect their workers’ wages and benefits instead of CEO pay, stock buybacks and layoffs. It failed to provide meaningful support for Americans losing their jobs or hours.
“Thanks to the hard work of Congressional Democrats, the Republicans’ corporations-focused proposal bill has been turned into a bipartisan workers-first bill. Democrats have achieved the bold, pro-worker action that is desperately needed to protect the health and well-being of every American.
“Here are just a few of the numerous initiatives in this historic piece of legislation that will benefit the residents of the Virgin Islands:
- $153.75 million of the $30.75 billion education stabilization fund is reserved for school systems in the small U.S. territories.
- $55 million is provided to the Dept. of Interior’s Office of Insular Affairs for assistance to the small U.S. territories to prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus, and for general technical assistance.
- 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 the Virgin Islands and the other Territories will receive approximately $3 billion in desperately needed funds to benefit our residents.
- $260 Billion in Dramatically Expanded Unemployment Benefits: Includes numerous provisions to improve unemployment benefits including providing an additional $600 per week for the next four weeks, providing an additional 13 weeks of federally funded benefits, and expanding eligibility to include workers in the gig economy and self-employed workers.
- 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.
- 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.
- Approximately $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:
- Child Care and Development Block Grant: Supports child care and early education by providing $3.5 billion for the Child Care and Development Block Grant.
- Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP): Provides $900 million to help low-income families pay their heating and cooling bills.
- 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.
- 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 $466,000. In addition, states can apply for additional funds above their minimum award, based on their needs.
“The American people need and deserve a coordinated, fully-funded, whole-of-government response to keep them and their loved ones safe from the coronavirus epidemic. On behalf of the hard-working families of the Virgin Islands and all Americans, I will continue to join House Democrats to work relentlessly and in a bi-partisan way to put Families and Workers First and protect Americans’ health, safety and economic security.”