3/27/2020 — 

WASHINGTON, DC – After Congress sprinted to complete a historic $2.2 trillion Emergency Coronavirus Economic Rescue bill, Rhode Island’s Congressional delegation is urging the Trump Administration to effectively implement the law and promptly get the money out the door and into the hands of those who need it.

U.S. Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse along with Congressmen Jim Langevin and David Cicilline, all supported the landmark bipartisan package, which provides federal funding and direct payments to address the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic from both a health and economic standpoint.  The new law includes critical assistance for people, hospitals, states, and Main Street businesses.

Today, after President Trump held a White House ceremony to sign the bill into law, Rhode Island’s Congressional delegation said this is emergency cash and they want the money flowing to people as soon as possible.  They say President Trump must coordinate and effectively manage the distribution of funds to help keep families and businesses afloat and prevent a more severe economic downturn.  And they pledged to closely monitor the distribution of funds and provide strong oversight of implementation and spending.

The $2.2 trillion rescue package includes direct payments, a major expansion of unemployment benefits, $337 billion for small businesses, $150 billion for hospitals and medical centers, and a $150 billion coronavirus relief fund for states.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin indicated it would take about three weeks for the checks to go out the door.  While this is a reasonable time, the delegation is urging the Trump Administration to expedite assistance wherever possible to put money into people's pockets and get credit into the hands of businesses.

“We are surging $2.2 trillion in assistance to combat coronavirus and help struggling families, businesses, hospitals, and communities.  This federal funding should be a major boost, but the Trump Administration needs to get the money out quickly.  Folks need immediate assistance to stay afloat and small businesses need cash-flow to survive this unprecedented downturn,” said Senator Reed, who served on the bipartisan taskforce that negotiated the bill.  “The Trump Administration must quickly get money where it needs to go: into the hands of people, small businesses, and leaders like Governor Raimondo.  The entire delegation is working non-stop to ensure the federal government does its part to support Rhode Islanders.”

“Congress worked fast to put together an unprecedented bipartisan relief package designed to keep the country afloat during this emergency,” said Senator Whitehouse.  “Now, the Trump administration must get implementation of this bill right and quickly dispatch aid to the Rhode Islanders and small businesses urgently in need of support.”

“Many Rhode Islanders and Americans across the nation are struggling because of the turmoil created by the COVID-19 outbreak, and they need assistance now,” said Congressman Langevin.  “Congress has done its job to protect lives and our economy by decisively passing the CARES Act. The Administration must now get these important resources to families, small business owners, frontline workers and medical facilities.”

“This is a public health crisis unlike any we have seen before. Since Day One, Democrats have focused on saving lives and providing relief for everyone impacted in this crisis,” said Congressman Cicilline.  “Mitch McConnell tried to put huge corporations first in this bill.  Democrats held the line and secured real relief for real people.  This bill will provide Rhode Islanders with more than a billion dollars of relief, new resources for our hospitals, direct cash payments for families, expanded unemployment benefits, and support for small businesses.  It’s critical that the Trump administration get this money out the door and into the hands of Rhode Islanders as soon as possible.”

Congress has now enacted three emergency coronavirus measures.  The first two included an $8 billion appropriation to help address the spread of the virus and a $100 billion-plus package that includes funds for free testing and expanded paid sick leave.  All four members of the delegation indicated they are willing to support additional action and resources if necessary.  They urged the Trump Administration to work with Congress on bipartisan planning and next steps in order to provide help for those harmed by the COVID-19 crisis.