WASHINGTON, DC – After returning to the U.S. Capitol this week in hopes of voting to provide additional direct COVID-19 relief payments of $2,000 to Americans, U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) announced that $1.1 billion in federal funding is heading to Rhode Island for COVID-19 vaccination, testing, unemployment aid, and direct payments.  The funds are from the recently enacted fiscal year 2021 Omnibus Appropriations and COVID-19 Relief Package, which also provides separate emergency federal relief to the Ocean State for rental assistance, education, and other measures.

The recently enacted ‘coronabus’ law includes $600 direct stimulus checks to eligible Americans, which the U.S. Treasury Department says are already being sent to millions of American households.

Senator Reed estimates Rhode Islanders will receive $497 million from the law to fund these direct payments to individuals.  This includes $600 stimulus checks for adults earning less than $75,000 a year and $1,200 for couples making up to $150,000, with an extra $600 for each dependent child under 17 years old.  Under the law, a family of four could receive $2,400 if it meets income requirements.  Adults earning over $75,000 could still get a smaller check, with payment amount decreasing by $5 for every $100 of income above the thresholds, phasing out entirely at $87,000 for individuals and $174,000 for couples.

“These direct payments are a lifeline for families, and more assistance is clearly needed.  Senate Democrats unanimously support higher payments.  The House already passed a clean, bipartisan package to increase these checks to $2,000, and President Trump claims he will sign the bill if it reaches his desk.  At this point, all that is stopping Americans from getting their $2,000 checks is Senate Republicans.  And I urge them: Don’t be stingy when it comes to this potentially life-saving aid.  Don’t try to tie people’s ability to put food on the table with social media liability legislation that has nothing to do with this pandemic,” said Senator Reed.  “We’re still working to get Senate Republicans to reverse their obstruction and agree to provide the full $2,000 direct benefit.  In the meantime, about half a billion dollars in direct payments is heading to Rhode Island in the form of checks or direct deposit and it should provide a needed boost to families, businesses, and communities.”

Senator Reed noted the newly enacted COVID-19 Relief package also provides 11 additional weeks of unemployment insurance, including for self-employed and independent contractors, and an additional $300 unemployment benefit.  Senator Reed estimates Rhode Island will receive $397 million in federal funding for UI assistance.  The measure also includes 11 additional weeks of federal financing for work sharing programs and another round of forgivable Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) for small businesses and nonprofits, including set-asides for minority-owned and other underserved businesses and new larger forgivable loans for restaurants.  It also includes money for the Save our Stages (SOS) Act, which Senator Reed cosponsored, to provide dedicated assistance for industries that rely on large gatherings, including concert venues and theaters.

To help mitigate the spread of the virus, the bill includes $218.8 million in federal funds for Rhode Island to boost the state’s COVID-19 health response.  This includes $182.9 million for vaccine distribution and $35.9 million for testing and tracing and isolation support.

A number of sources of federal funding will be made available to Rhode Island and other states in the coming weeks, and the state’s overall total from these programs won’t be known until applications are submitted by businesses, non-profits, municipalities, the state, or other entities.