The Salisbury Area Chamber of Commerce has been communicating with our elected federal legislators regarding aid packages that support local businesses amid the coronavirus pandemic.
SACC President/CEO Bill Chambers received a detailed response from the staff of U. S. Senator from Maryland, Chris Van Hollen, addressing Chambers’ concerns.
Today, Tuesday, March 18, 2020, the U. S. Senate will be voting on H.R. 6201, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. This bill will provide states with $1 billion to help them strengthen their unemployment insurance programs. Half of that sum, $500 million, will go toward increased administrative costs. The remaining $500 million will assist states where unemployment has increased by 10%.
Additionally, the bill authorizes interest-free loans to help states pay unemployment insurance benefits, federal technical assistance to set up work-sharing programs where employers reduce hours instead of laying employees off, and for employees to receive partial unemployment benefits to offset wage loss.
If any state qualifies for extended benefits due to increased unemployment, the federal government will pay 100% of the cost instead of 50%.
Van Hollen will vote in favor of H.R. 6201.
Senator Van Hollen has also co-sponsored the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Act which would significantly expand who is eligible for unemployment benefits and help employees that could be left behind by HR 6201.
The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Act is modeled after Disaster Unemployment Insurance and would expand unemployment benefits to the following: those who are sick or who have been exposed to coronavirus; those who must care for someone who is sick with coronavirus; individuals who cannot reach their place of work because of a quarantine; individuals who need to self-quarantine; those who must care for a child because of school closure; and individuals who become family breadwinners because the head of their household died of coronavirus.
The program would last until 6 months after the current public health emergency is terminated. The benefits and administrative costs associated with this program will be federally funded.
Congress has also started working on a third package to respond to the economic effects of the coronavirus. Senator Van Hollen will work to ensure that it includes programs to support working families and small businesses that are hurt by this crisis.
Issues related to the coronavirus are rapidly changing. More information regarding Senator Van Hollen’s efforts regarding the coronavirus can be obtained https://www.vanhollen.senate.gov/coronavirus or calling (202) 224-4654