Senator Murray Secures Much Needed Assistance for Families and Small Business Owners in Washington State, Pushes for More COVID Relief in New Year

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), a top Democratic appropriator and the top Democrat on the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, issued the following statement on her vote in support of the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act, long overdue legislation to provide much-needed relief to families, workers, and small business owners in Washington state and across the U.S.

“My vote for this bill is a vote to get families and small businesses in Washington state and nationwide some relief this winter—and then to double down in the year ahead on fighting for policies that truly reflect the depth of the crisis we’re facing, and help us dig out of this pandemic and come back stronger and fairer.

“As I’ve said since the start of the pandemic in Washington state nearly a year ago, we need to be squarely focused on addressing the underlying public health crisis and on helping communities deal with the economic devastation we’re seeing. I’m glad that over the next few tough months, workers’ unemployment insurance will be extended and more families will be able to stay in their homes and get help putting food on the table. We have also secured more much-needed support for small businesses, schools, public health, and health care providers—including for testing, vaccine distribution, and development and procurement of vaccines, therapeutics, diagnostics and medical supplies, all of which are vital to fighting the virus, saving lives, and ultimately bringing this pandemic to an end.

“I’ve also said that a historic crisis like this demands bold solutions—because we want every worker and family to experience an economic recovery, not just those at the very top.  So, while these steps we voted on today will provide near-term relief, I will fight harder than ever in the coming months for strong policies like those I and Democrats have laid out over the last year:

  • stimulus checks that reflect the depth of the crisis families are facing,
  • universal paid leave,
  • more investments to continue to help schools provide educational services to students, whether they are operating remotely, in-person, or a hybrid of both, and to stabilize our child care sector,  
  • support for small businesses, especially women and minority-owned small businesses, to come back from the economic crisis,
  • student loan relief,
  • help for state, local, and Tribal governments to support vaccine distribution and testing capacity without cutting jobs or slashing budget priorities like education and health,
  • policies to expand quality, affordable health care and funding to strengthen our public health work so every family and community can stay safe and healthy through this crisis and others,
  • premium pay for workers on the frontlines,
  • help for people with disabilities to live independently at home, and more.

“I will continue to advocate for pandemic response efforts that reflect the disproportionate harm this virus is causing to Black and Latino communities and all communities of color—and to ensure immigrant workers, so many of whom are working on the frontlines of this crisis, are fully included in our relief efforts.

“This virus has shown us clearer than ever that we will be stronger, healthier, and more prosperous if we can ensure none of us are left behind—that each of us can get health care, can feed, take care of, and spend time with our loved ones, and can have the ability to live the full life we choose. The last painful year reminds us how far we are from this goal—but also how urgent and necessary the work is to achieve it. I am more committed than ever and I look forward to the work ahead with each of you.”

See below some highlights of several federal investments and other priorities Senator Murray helped secure in the relief package:

  • Working Families
    • Unemployment Insurance: $300 increase to the weekly unemployment insurance benefit and continuation of expanded eligibility for benefits to those impacted by COVID-19.
    • Direct Payments: $600 per individual, plus $600 for each child dependent.
    • Child Care: $10 billion to help stabilize the child care market and allow states to expand child care assistance to essential workers and working families who are in great need of child care services.
  • Economic Support
    • Small Businesses: $325 billion for the Small Business Administration for new Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans and Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) grants as well as provisions to allow the hardest hit and smallest businesses to receive a second forgivable PPP loan. Also includes targeted funding for restaurants, bars, and live entertainment venues.
    • Low Income Communities and Communities of Color: $12 billion in targeted emergency investments to help low-income communities and communities of color.
    • Transportation: Approximately $45 billion in relief for transit agencies, airports, bus and motor coach operators, and Amtrak.
  • Health Care
    • Testing:$22.4 billion, all sent directly to states, territories, Tribes, and localities, for testing, tracing and COVID mitigation programs. Of this total, $2.5 billion will be sent out as grants specifically targeted at needs in underserved areas, including both communities of color and rural communities.
    • Vaccines: $8.75 billion to the CDC and states, territories, Tribes, and localities for vaccine distribution and $19.695 billion to BARDA for manufacturing, production and purchase of vaccines, therapeutics, and ancillary supplies.
    • PPE and Medical Supplies: $3.25 billion for the Strategic National Stockpile.
    • Provider Relief Fund: Additional $3 billion for the COVID-19 Provider Relief Fund established in CARES. 
  • Washington State Priorities
    • Education: $54.3 billion for K-12 education and $22.7 billion for higher education, to address learning loss, implement public health protocols, and provide quality education to all students. $4.05 billion for Governor’s Emergency Relief Fund to provide relief to schools and colleges hit the hardest by the crisis.
    • Rental Assistance: $25 billion for states, tribes, and territories to provide rental and utility assistance, and an extension of the existing CDC eviction moratorium.
    • Nutrition: $13 billion to increase individual monthly SNAP benefits by 15 percent. Expands SNAP eligibility for college students.
    • Hanford and PNNL: Extends the CARES Act provision known as section 3610, which provides federal agencies the authority to reimburse contractors who are temporarily unable to work, due to facility closures or other restrictions, for the costs of paid leave during the COVID pandemic.
    • Broadband: $7 billion for broadband infrastructure deployment, broadband mapping, affordable broadband programs, and digital inclusion activities—including $1 billion for Tribal communities.
    • Agriculture: $13 billion for direct payments, purchases, and loans to farmers, ranchers, and local food producers who have suffered losses due to the pandemic.
    • Fisheries: $300 million for the NOAA fishery disaster assistance program, including $30 million for tribal fishery participants.
    • Postal Service: Converts the $10 billion in USPS loans from the CARES Act into grants.
    • Tribes: Extends the deadline to December 31, 2021 for tribes to expend Coronavirus Relief Funds includes in CARES Act.