Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Congressmember Mike Levin has been focused on addressing the public health and economic crises our country is facing, by persistently advocating for those who need relief the most during these difficult times, both here in the 49th District and across the nation.
Mike believes it is of vital importance to make sure his constituents stay informed on the precautions they can take to keep themselves and their families safe and healthy, and up-to-date on new resources and opportunities for assistance as they become available. This is why he hosts a weekly COVID-19 Virtual Town Hall with an Infectious Disease Epidemiologist at UC San Diego, to provide updates on the legislative response from Congress, discuss how recent relief packages will specifically assist residents of the 49th District and our communities, and answer questions submitted by constituents in North County San Diego and South Orange County.
Mike and his colleagues in Congress have currently passed four bipartisan relief packages, and a fifth piece of legislation was recently passed in the House of Representatives, to help lessen the devastating public health and economic impact of COVID-19 on our families and communities:
Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act
- The first legislative response to COVID-19 was enacted on March 6th, and included:
- A $8.3 billion supplemental appropriation to bolster vaccine development, research, equipment stockpiles and state and local health budgets.
Families First Coronavirus Response Act
- Was enacted on March 18th, and included approximately $200 billion to provide affected individuals with paid sick and family leave, create tax credits for affected employers, expand food and nutrition services, and more.
Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act
- Enacted on March 27th and far larger in scope, the approximately $2.2 trillion CARES Act was another positive bipartisan step that put workers and their families first. It included:
- $100 billion for hospitals and frontline medical professionals.
- Specifically, health care providers in North County San Diego and South Orange County have received over $75 million in COVID-19 relief funds as a result of the CARES Act.
- $16 billion to replenish the Strategic National Stockpile with personal protective equipment and other vital medical supplies.
- Approximately $20 billion for the VA, with most of the funds going to Veterans Health Centers.
- $150 billion in new funding for state and local governments, with approximately $15.3 billion allocated specifically for California, $559.4 million for San Diego County and the City of San Diego, and $534.8 million for Orange County.
- For workers and their families, it included a significant expansion of unemployment insurance. Including access to benefits for part-time, self-employed, and gig economy workers, as well as a $600 weekly increase, raising the maximum benefit in California from $1,800 a month to $4,200 a month for up to four months.
- Direct cash payments for working and middle class Americans of $1,200, and $500 for dependants under the age of 17.
- $350 billion was allocated for the Paycheck Protection Program, to provide forgivable loans of up to $10 million for small businesses and nonprofits to maintain existing workforce and help pay for other expenses like rent, mortgage, and utilities.
- $14.25 billion was provided for universities and colleges for pandemic relief, with half of the funding provided to schools going to students as emergency cash grants.
- In the 49th District, UC San Diego received $34,889,769, Mira Costa College received $5,511,006, and Saddleback College received $4,296,103
Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act
- Enacted on April 24th as a supplemental, interim package meant to build on the CARES Act, this bill included:
- $320 billion in additional funds for a more inclusive Paycheck Protection Program, which includes $60 billion specifically for small and medium sized lenders.
- An additional $75 billion desperately needed by hospitals and health care workers.
- $25 billion for testing and an important requirement for a national testing strategy, which the administration must present to the Congress by May 24th.
The Heroes Act
- Most recently, the House of Representatives passed the $3 trillion relief package called the Heroes Act on May 15th, which includes:
- Nearly $1 trillion in new State and Local Coronavirus Relief Funds through the Department of the Treasury to help first responders, frontline health workers, transit employees, teachers, and other workers providing vital services. Funds can be used for COVID-related expenses or to replace lost revenues due to the negative economic impacts of COVID.
- Approximately $48 billion would be allocated specifically for California.
- Establishes a $200 billion “Heroes Fund”, to secure hazard pay for our frontline workers who are putting their lives and safety on the line every day during this crisis. This would help ensure the retention of essential workers who are working grueling hours on the frontlines of this crisis, and promote the recruitment of additional workers in the months ahead.
- Protects Americans who are losing their employer-provided health insurance with COBRA subsidies allowing them to maintain their coverage, and creates a special enrollment period in the ACA exchanges for uninsured Americans.
- It requires OSHA to issue a strong, enforceable standard within seven days of enactment to require all workplaces to develop and implement infection control plans based on CDC expertise, and prevents employers from retaliating against workers who report infection control problems.
- Provides an additional $75 billion for coronavirus testing, contact tracing, and isolation measures, and ensures that every American can access free coronavirus treatment, and provides support for hospitals and healthcare providers.
- Supports small businesses and nonprofits by strengthening the Payroll Protection Program to ensure that it reaches underserved communities, nonprofits of all sizes, and responds flexibly to small businesses by providing $10 billion for COVID-19 emergency grants through the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program.
- A second round of more substantial economic impact payments of $1,200 per family member and up to $6,000 per household, and extends weekly $600 federal unemployment payments through next January, providing a vital safety net for the record number of Americans who have lost their jobs during this pandemic.
- Increases the overall authorization level for the Social Services Block Grant to $12.15 billion in 2020 and directly appropriates $850 million to SSBG to fund child and family care for essential workers.
- Enhances the new employee retention tax credit that encourages employers to keep their employees on payroll, allowing 60 million Americans to remain connected to their paychecks and benefits.
- Addresses rising hunger nationwide with a 15% increase to the maximum SNAP benefit and additional funding for nutrition programs that help families put food on the table. It also provides housing assistance to help struggling families afford a safe place to live with $175 billion in new funding to assist renters and homeowners make monthly rent, mortgage, utility payments, and other housing related costs.
- $25 billion in funding for the Post Office for revenue forgone due to the coronavirus pandemic, plus additional protections for Postal workers. An additional $15 million is provided for the Postal Service Inspector General for oversight of this funding.
- $100 billion in funding to support the educational needs of States, school districts, and institutions of higher education in response to coronavirus.
- It will provide resources to ensure safe elections and an accurate census.
- It also includes language to combat veteran homelessness, including bipartisan, bicameral bill Mike introduced with the Chairman of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee Mark Takano (D-CA), and Ranking Member Dr. Phil Roe (R-TN) to help military families terminate new leases affected by the Defense Department’s stop-movement order.
- This language amends the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act to include stop-movement orders as a reason to terminate a lease, to ensure that service members never suffer significant personal financial losses as a result of following orders due to military families being forced to pay for a second home that won’t be able to move into because of the stop-movement order.
Mike has led a variety of letters that have been signed and supported by Federal or Local Elected Officials to address pressing concerns and issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic:
- On May 12th, Mike led a letter signed onto by the entire Orange County Congressional delegation, to Orange County Health Care Agency Director Clayton Chau requesting more information regarding the County’s low COVID-19 testing volume in comparison with other counties across California. The letter requests a briefing to better understand the factors contributing to the testing deficiencies so they may work together to address the disparity.
- On May 7th, Mike led a letter that was signed by 37 of his colleagues, to House Appropriations leaders to support survivors of domestic violence, child abuse, elder abuse, and sexual assault by providing $50 million in funding for vital programs like Family Justice Centers.
- On May 7th, Mike and a bipartisan group of nine local Mayors from cities across the 49th District wrote a letter calling for funding to support and stabilize smaller counties and cities to help make up for lost tax revenue and ensure that our local law enforcement, firefighters, teachers, county employees, and countless other essential workers receive the pay they deserve. The letter was signed by Carlsbad Mayor Matt Hall, Dana Point Mayor Richard Viczorek, Del Mar Mayor Ellie Haviland, Encinitas Mayor Catherine S. Blakespear, Oceanside Mayor Peter Weiss, San Clemente Mayor Pro Tem Laura Ferguson, San Juan Capistrano Mayor Troy Bourne, Solana Beach Mayor Jewel Edson, and Vista Mayor Judy Ritter.
- On April 28th, in order to expedite the ability of communities to safely re-open in accordance with the guidance of public health experts, along with 15 of his colleagues in the House, Mike led a letter to the Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and Vice President Mike Pence requesting a detailed COVID-19 National Testing Strategy.
- On April 17th, Mike led a letter with 72 of his colleagues in the House to the Secretary of Health and Human Services, Alex Azar, to provide increased COVID-19 relief funding to Community Health Centers and other Medicaid providers.
- On April 13th, Mike led a letter signed by 56 of his colleagues in the House to request transparency from FEMA regarding management and distribution of PPE and other essential medical supplies.