Congressman Fortenberry explains coronavirus relief bill and urges Senate passage

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LINCOLN, Neb. - Congressman Jeff Fortenberry offered the following statement Monday on the need for swift Senate passage of coronavirus relief.

“During this difficult time for our country, the Senate needs to act quickly to protect America’s health care, protect American workers, and protect America’s small business. There is too much uncertainty. No time for delay,” Fortenberry said.

Democrats are holding out as they argue the package is tilted toward corporations and should do more to help suddenly jobless workers and health care providers with dire needs.

According to Congressman Fortenberry, so far two bills have been passed, with a very large third bill on the way. Below, Fortenberry explains some basic components of the bill as it stands and other policies already enacted:

Individuals and Families

  • Most Americans are going to get a check: $1,200 per adult; $500 per child. Individuals on Social Security or who make no money will still get a check.

  • Unemployment benefits are significantly expanded, including for self-employed and independent contractors.

  • For older individuals, the minimum distribution for retirement requirement is waived.

  • The 10 percent early withdrawal fee on retirement accounts is waived on coronavirus-related distributions.

  • The federal income tax filing date has already been extended.

Small Businesses and Nonprofits

  • Individuals who keep their people employed can get a loan. For eight weeks, the portion of the loan that covers payroll, mortgage interest or rent will be the borrowers to keep.

  • Payroll taxes are delayed until 2021 or later.

  • For six months, principal and interest on existing SBA loans are waived.

Health Care

  • Provides additional funding for prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of coronavirus and expands health insurance coverage.

  • Expands nutrition services, Medicare, and Medicaid.

  • Prioritizes Food and Drug Administration (FDA) review of certain promising treatments and allows emergency use of certain diagnostic tests not yet approved by the FDA.

  • Essential medicines and medical equipment––Made in America.

Fortenberry said the bill also provides significant emergency relief to distressed business sectors as well as states and municipalities, with "common sense safeguards against abuse." The Congressman said business support is in the form of loans, not bailouts.

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