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Federal Updates and Resources



Federal Legislative Updates:

  • On March 4, 2020, the House passed H.R. 6074, the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act to provide emergency supplemental funding to address the coronavirus outbreak. The legislation provides $8.3 billion in new funding for a robust response to the coronavirus, including support for state and local health agencies, vaccine and treatment development, and loans for affected small businesses to lessen the economic blow of this public health emergency. The legislation was signed into law by the president on March 6, 2020. For a one-page summary of the legislation, see HERE.

  • On March 14, 2020, the House passed H.R. 6201, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, to bolster the federal government’s response to the coronavirus outbreak and address the severe impacts of the coronavirus on American families, workers, and small businesses. The legislation was signed into law by the president on March 18, 2020 and includes the following measures, among other provisions: 

    • The core components of Murphy’s legislation, H.R. 6198, the Emergency Paid Leave Act, which provides financial assistance to workers with coronavirus, workers who are quarantined, and workers who miss work to care for a family member affected by coronavirus;

    • Free testing for coronavirus, including the uninsured;

    • More than $1 billion to provide nutritious food to low-income pregnant women and mothers with young children, help local food banks, and provide home-delivered meals to seniors;

    • Unemployment aid to laid off and furloughed workers, as well as those who exhaust their allotted paid leave; and,

    • Safeguards to Medicaid benefits, increasing the formula that provides states and territories funding for the program to avoid cuts.

    • For a more detailed summary of the legislation, see HERE

  • On March 25, 2020, the House and Senate reached a deal over a third economic stimulus package to provide additional relief to Americans affected by the coronavirus pandemic. The legislation was signed into law on March 27, 2020. H.R. 748, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act provides $340 billion in assistance and includes:

    • Employee Retention Tax Credit: A Murphy-led proposal to provide roughly $55 billion in support to businesses who pay their employees rather than lay them off.

    • Direct Payments to Working Americans: the bill includes direct cash payments of $1,200 for each adult. An additional $500 cash payment is available per child under the age of 17. The full payment is available for individuals making up to $75,000 (individual) and $150,000 (married). The amount begins to phase out for individuals earning more than those amounts.

    • Unemployment Insurance ($260 billion): the bill includes a massive investment in the UI program as well as critical reforms to make the program more effective for workers. In the wake of the economic recession caused by the coronavirus the UI program is an essential long-term lifeline for millions of laid-off workers during this crisis. It provides full paycheck replacement in the form of a $600 increase for every American, which equates to 100 percent of wages for the average American without a paycheck struggling through the crisis. It gets money in people’s pockets sooner by providing federal incentives for states to eliminate waiting weeks, and ensures an additional 13 weeks of federally-funded unemployment insurance benefits are immediately made available. Finally, it allows part-time, self-employed, and gig economy workers to access UI benefits. 

    • Marshall Plan For Health Care System ($150 billion): the bill makes a historic investment in our health care system to help in its fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. The new $150 billion fund is widely available to all types of hospitals and providers most affected by COVID-19, and it will be available to fund whatever is needed to defeat this virus. This includes personal and protective equipment for health care workers, testing supplies, increased workforce and training, new construction to house patients, emergency operation centers and more. Additional funding is also dedicated to delivering Medicare payment increases to all hospitals and providers to ensure that they receive the funding they need during this crisis, and new investments in our country’s Strategic National Stockpile, surge capacity and medical research into COVID-19.

    • Small Business Rescue Plan ($377 billion): $350 billion in loan forgiveness grants to small businesses and non-profits to maintain existing workforce and help pay for other expenses like rent, mortgage, and utilities; $10 billion for SBA emergency grants of up to $10,000 to provide immediate relief for small business operating costs; $17 billion for SBA to cover 6 months of payments for small businesses with existing SBA loans.

    • State and Local Coronavirus Expenditures Fund ($150 billion): To assist states and local governments that must pay for new expenses related to COVID-19 response, the bill provides $150 billion.
    • For a more detailed summary of the legislation, see HERE.  


Congresswoman Murphy Legislative Updates:

  • On February 3, 2020, Rep. Murphy sent a letter to the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar and Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf urging them to consider additional steps to protect Floridians from coronavirus. The letter emphasized the unique nature of the threat to Florida, given that the state is a top tourist destination and home to many senior citizens who are more vulnerable to the illness. Murphy called on the two federal agencies to ensure there are sufficient safety measures in place at Florida’s airports and seaports and to enhance coordination with state and local health officials. Full text of the letter can be found HERE.

  • On February 17, 2020, Rep. Murphy convened a roundtable event with local public health experts to discuss how the coronavirus will pose a threat to Florida. Participants included subject matter experts from the Orlando Immunology Center, Nemours Children’s Hospital, the College of Medicine at the University of Central Florida, AARP, Seminole County Emergency Management, and the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority. Rep. Murphy’s opening statement can be found HERE.

  • On March 9, 2020, Rep. Murphy sent a letter to Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, Florida Senate President Bill Galvano, and Florida House Speaker José Oliva urging them to protect Floridians from the coronavirus by expanding Medicaid. The letter, co-authored with Rep. Donna Shalala and Rep. Kathy Castor, notes that coronavirus has emerged as a serious public health threat and has made Medicaid expansion in Florida even more urgent. Full text of the letter can be found HERE.

  • On March 11, 2020, Rep. Murphy introduced H.R. 6198, the Emergency Paid Leave Act, legislation to provide emergency paid leave to workers affected by coronavirus. Murphy’s bill would be especially helpful in Florida, which is uniquely vulnerable to coronavirus given that it is a popular travel and tourism destination and has a large percentage of elderly residents. Florida does not have a state-administered paid leave program, many companies in the state do not offer paid leave to their employees, and the state is home to many hourly workers who live paycheck to paycheck. A summary of the bill can be found HERE.

    • Update: On March 18, 2020, the President signed into law H.R. 6201, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, legislation that includes the core components of Rep. Murphy’s bill. It requires employers with five or more employees to provide up to 10 weeks of paid emergency leave for eligible workers. This benefit would begin once an eligible worker has exhausted his or her initial two weeks of mandatory paid sick leave, for a total of 12 weeks. For more information, see HERE.

  • On March 13, 2020, Rep. Murphy wrote to Governor Ron Desantis urging him to submit to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) a formal request for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan declaration, which would allow small businesses and non-profit organizations that have suffered economic injury as a result of coronavirus to access low-interest loans. Full text of the letter can be found HERE.

    • Update: On March 18, 2020, SBA announced the availability of Economic Injury Disaster Loans to small businesses in Florida, among other states. For more information on this program, see HERE.

  • On March 17, 2020, Rep. Murphy joined a Florida congressional delegation letter to Governor DeSantis urging him to modify unemployment benefit requirements to ensure FL residents will be eligible for emergency COVID-19 unemployment payments. See HERE.  

  • On March 18, 2020, Rep. Murphy joined a letter with Rep. Joe Cunningham urging congressional leadership to temporarily suspend tariffs imposed by the Trump Administration as part of Congress’s coronavirus response. The letter notes that such a “détente” would provide much-needed relief to millions of American families and businesses affected by coronavirus. The members also pushed for Congress to prohibit any new tariffs from being imposed during this public health emergency, as well as for American businesses to receive a refund of tariffs paid to date to help them weather this economic crisis. Full text of the letter can be found HERE

  • On March 20, 2020, Rep. Murphy signed on to a Florida congressional delegation letter to the FEMA Administrator in support of additional medical supplies and equipment to combat COVID-19. Full text of the letter can be found HERE

  • On March 20, 2020, Rep. Murphy joined a Florida congressional delegation letter to House Leadership urging them to include relief for public seaports in Florida in any forthcoming stimulus package. Full text of the letter can be found HERE

  • On March 20, 2020, Rep. Murphy joined a Florida congressional delegation letter to the Florida Public Service Commission and Florida Division of Emergency Management urging a moratorium on disconnection for nonpayment of utility bills. Full text can be found HERE

  • On March 23, 2020, Rep. Murphy joined a letter urging U.S. Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to assist student borrowers and work with loan servicers to provide relief to borrowers. Full text can be found HERE

  • On March 24, 2020, Rep. Murphy joined a Florida delegation letter urging Florida Cabinet Members and Chief Justice Charles Canady to temporarily suspend all eviction and foreclosure proceedings in the state during this emergency. Full text can be found HERE

  • On March 25, 2020, Rep. Murphy joined a letter urging Governor Ron DeSantis to issue a statewide shelter-in-place order to protect Florida residents. The letter notes that with the highest concentration of older residents of any state, Florida is at even greater risk of serious impacts on the health of our residents and burden on our health care system. Full text can be found HERE

  • On March 27, 2020, Rep. Murphy joined a letter urging the U.S. Department of Agriculture to provide relief for Florida produce growers and to prioritize the purchasing of commodities from these local producers. The letter notes that a commitment from the USDA to purchase these available fruit and vegetables would not only provide critical relief to local growers and farmers, it would also provide much-needed food to needy families struggling in the midst of this pandemic. Full text can be found HERE.  

  • On March 30, 2020, Rep. Murphy joined a letter to Governor DeSantis urging him to expeditiously enter into an agreement with the Department of Labor to ensure self-employed workers and independent contractors are able to access the unemployment benefits provided under the CARES Act. Full text of the letter can be found HERE

  • On March 31, 2020, Rep. Murphy sent a follow-up letter to Governor DeSantis reiterating the importance of issuing a stay-at-home order for the state of Florida. Full text of the letter can be found HEREUpdate: On April 1, 2020, Governor DeSantis issued a stay-at-home order for Floridians until April 30 with some exceptions. 

  • On April 1, 2020, Rep. Murphy joined a letter to Federal Communications Commission Chairman Pai and Attorney General Barr urging their agencies to safeguard and protect Americans from robocall scams. The letter expresses concern that consumers, particularly seniors, are at high risk during this time for scams that attempt to sell suspicious products and spread misinformation and fear. Full text of the letter can be found HERE

  • On April 1, 2020, Rep. Murphy joined a letter urging Treasury Secretary Mnuchin to ensure Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) beneficiaries are provided access to recovery rebates automatically. The letter notes that tens of millions of SSA beneficiaries, particularly SSI recipients and seniors, do not file tax returns. Full text of the letter can be found HERE.  

    Update: The IRS has issued a confirmation that Social Security recipients will receive their recovery rebates automatically. 

  • On April 2, 2020, Rep. Murphy joined a letter to U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Perdue urging him to approve Florida’s request to administer the Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and to send additional Emergency Food Assistance Program resources to Florida regions in need. Full text of the letter can be found HERE

  • On April 2, 2020, Rep. Murphy and Rep. Lois Frankel led a bipartisan Florida congressional delegation letter urging Governor Ron DeSantis to utilize federal funding recently provided by Congress to make swift improvements to the state’s unemployment insurance system. The letter notes the state-operated website is not functioning properly or at all, and that it is difficult to speak with a qualified person over the phone in order to obtain assistance. Full text of the letter can be found HERE

  • On April 2, 2020, Rep. Stephanie Murphy and Rep. John Katko (R-N.Y.) introduced legislation to create a bipartisan commission to assess the United States’ preparation for and response to pandemics. The National Commission on COVID-19 Act is modeled on the 2002 law establishing the 9/11 Commission, which was enacted in the wake of the 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States. The 10 members of the COVID-19 Commission, split equally between Democrats and Republicans, would examine the country’s preparation for and response to the COVID-19 pandemic and recommend concrete steps the U.S. should take to ensure a stronger, more effective government response to future pandemics. A more detailed summary of the legislation can be found HERE.

Federal Resources: 

The following federal agencies have put out recent announcements and resources related to the coronavirus emergency. Please check back periodically for more updates. If you need further assistance with any federal agency, please contact my office at (888) 205-5421 to be connected to a caseworker. 

  •  U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA)

    In addition to traditional SBA funding programs, the CARES Act established several new temporary programs to address the COVID-19 outbreak. 

    • Economic Injury Disaster Loan Emergency Advance - This initiative provides small businesses with working capital loans of up to $2 million that can provide vital economic support to small businesses to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing.

    • Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) - PPP is a loan designed to provide a direct incentive for small businesses to keep their workers on the payroll. SBA will forgive loans if all employees are kept on the payroll for eight weeks and the money is used for payroll, rent, mortgage interest, or utilities. For a fact sheet on PPP, see HERE. For answers to frequently asked questions about PPP, see HERE

    • SBA Express Bridge Loans - Allows small businesses who currently have a business relationship with an SBA Express Lender to access up to $25,000 quickly.

    • SBA Debt Relief - As part of SBA's debt relief efforts,the SBA will automatically pay the principal, interest, and fees of current 7(a), 504, and microloans for a period of six months.The SBA will also automatically pay the principal, interest, and fees of new 7(a), 504, and microloans issued prior to September 27, 2020.

  • Internal Revenue Services (IRS) 

    • 2020 Federal Stimulus Rebate Checks: Frequently Asked Questions

      • Why is Congress proposing to pay stimulus rebates to individuals? The public health and economic consequences of COVID-19 are significant. These rebates help Americans afford what they need during this public health crisis, as many are experiencing a significant cash crunch. 

      • When will the rebate checks be distributed? The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will work to deliver rebates quickly in the form of advance payments. For people who filed a federal income tax return in 2018 or 2019, payment processing will be based on payment or address information already on file with the IRS. Electronic distributions will be automatic to an account the payee authorized January 1, 2018 or later. 

      • How large are the rebates? The amount of the rebate depends on family size. The payment is $1,200 for each adult individual ($2,400 for joint filers), and $500 per qualifying child under age 17. The advance payment of rebates is reduced by $5 for every $100 of income to the extent a taxpayer’s income exceeds $150,000 for a joint filer, $112,500 for a head of household filer, and $75,000 for anyone else (including single filers).  

      • Do rebates need to be repaid? No, rebates do not need to be repaid. If an individual experienced an income loss in 2020 or if they have an increase in family size, they may be able to claim an additional credit of the difference when the individual files their 2020 tax federal income tax return in 2021.  

      • How will rebate checks be delivered? It depends. Rebates will be delivered automatically—by the IRS—to most Americans who file individual federal income tax returns. When available, electronic direct deposit will be used in place of mailing a physical check.  

      • Many individuals don't need to file a tax return. Are non-filers eligible for rebates? Yes. Eligible U.S. citizens or permanent residents who had gross income that did not exceed $12,200 ($24,400 for married couples) for 2019 and were not otherwise required to file a federal income tax return for 2019, and didn't plan to, can provide the necessary information to the IRS easily and quickly for no fee through "Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info" to be considered for an Economic Impact Payment. For more information and to submit an application, see HERE
      • How will a person who has recently moved access rebates? The IRS will determine payment delivery systems for everyone entitled to rebates. 

      • Will the rebates affect my eligibility for federal income-targeted programs? No, the rebate is considered a tax refund and is not counted towards eligibility for federal programs.

      • What identification requirements apply to receive rebates? Taxpayers must have Social Security Numbers for themselves and their qualifying children in order to receive rebates.  

    • Tax Day Extension: On March 21, 2020, the Treasury Department and IRS announced that the federal income tax filing due date is automatically extended from April 15, 2020 to July 15, 2020. Taxpayers may also defer federal income tax payments to July 15, 2020 without penalties and interest, regardless of the amount owed. For more information, see HERE.

    • Implementation of Coronavirus-Related Paid Leave for Workers and Tax Credits for Small and Mid-Sized Businesses: On March 20, 2020, Treasury, IRS, and the Department of Labor announced that small and midsize employers can begin taking advantage of two new refundable payroll tax credits, designed to immediately and fully reimburse them, dollar-for-dollar, for the cost of providing Coronavirus-related leave to their employees. This relief to employees and small and midsize businesses is provided under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (Act), enacted by Congress and signed by President Trump on March 18, 2020. For more information, see HERE

  • U.S. Department of Homeland Security

    • Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is providing information to help the public distinguish between rumors and facts regarding the response to coronavirus. To visit FEMA’s Coronavirus Rumor Control page, click HERE

    • Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is providing information to notify the public about airports where TSA officers have tested positive for the COVID-19 virus. To see this page, click HERE

    • U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency has issued guidance related to immigration enforcement and check-ins. For more information, click HERE.

    • U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced that as of March 18, 2020, routine in-person services will be suspended until at least April 1. USCIS staff will continue to perform duties that do not involve contact with the public. However, USCIS will provide emergency services for limited situations. For more information, click HERE

  •  U.S. Department of State

    • The Department of State advises U.S. citizens to avoid all international travel due to the global impact of COVID-19. To see the travel advisory, click HERE

    • The Department of State encourages U.S. citizen travelers to enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) at http://step.state.gov/  to receive alerts and be located in an emergency. 

      • In Case of an Emergency Overseas: Please call 1 (888) 407-4747 (U.S. and Canada) or 1 (202) 501-4444 (overseas) or contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate: https://www.usembassy.gov/.

  • Social Security Administration - On Tuesday, March 17, 2020, SSA suspended face-to-face service to the public in its field offices and hearings offices nationwide until further notice. However, benefits should not be disrupted. For more information, visit SSA’s website HERE

  • U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs - The VA has issued a Coronavirus FAQ for veterans with inquiries or in need of assistance. See HERE. For more information on VA’s public health response, visit their website HERE.  

  • U.S. Department of Labor

    o   Workplace Safety - The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has resources to help employers and workers prepare for and respond to coronavirus in the workplace. See OSHA’s website HERE

    o   Wages, Hours, and Leave - The Wage and Hour Division is providing information on common issues employers and workers face when responding to COVID-19, including the effects on wages and hours worked under the Fair Labor Standards Act and job-protected leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act. For more information, see HERE

  • U.S. Department of Education

    o   Elementary and Secondary School Resources: Information for K-12 schools and school personnel can be found HERE.

    o   Higher Education: On March 25, 2020, the Administration announced a temporary suspension on all federally-held student loan payments. For more information on how this may affect your student loans, see HERE

     



 

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