Within the Finance Committee’s jurisdiction, our proposals take on several issues facing Americans during this crisis.
For unemployment insurance, we boost the federal government’s reimbursements to local governments and nonprofits to 75 percent – up from 50 percent in the CARES Act to prevent further layoffs.
We’ll maintain some of the current boosted benefit, while responsibly honing programs to target help where it’s needed. This transition from a flat rate to a replacement of about 70 percent of lost wages is a better approach.
Regardless, the boosted unemployment benefit is significantly more than the Democratic Senate and President approved in the 2009 economic crisis, and it doesn’t pay most people more than working like the extra $600 does.
Our tax provisions aim to help Americans get back to work and help businesses safely open. We expand access to the CARES Act employment tax credit for small and medium-sized businesses, and expand the Work Opportunity Tax Credit for larger employers hiring people currently receiving unemployment insurance. We also provide a new credit for expenses, like PPE and cleaning, needed to maintain a safe and healthy workplace for employees and customers.
The Republican plan provides for another round of $1,200 Economic Impact Payments for most American adults, with an additional $500 provided for each dependent regardless of age.
For health care providers, we relax the terms of loans received from Medicare. We ensure that Medicare telehealth options don’t expire before Congress can determine what should be made permanent. We extend for five years the CARES Act provision that pays clinics and health centers for telehealth to provide a down payment on meeting health care needs in rural America. And we freeze Medicare premiums at 2020 levels to head off a predicted spike next year. We also assist nursing home patients and workers.
State and local governments have also asked for federal help. Our proposal extends the time frame in which governments can utilize the $150 billion in funding provided under the CARES Act, while also providing more flexibility – allowing some funds to be used to cover revenue shortfalls. Altogether, this proposal sets out a responsible and holistic approach to address the problems our country faces. I hope my Democratic colleagues are interested in compromise and solutions to the benefit of all the American people.