Garcia adds support as Congress passes $900B COVID relief bill; Newsom breaks down estimates for CA

Mike Garcia

Congressional leaders on Monday passed a $900 billion coronavirus relief bill that could include estimates of $20 billion in unemployment benefits and $17 billion in direct cash payments for Californians. 

The bill, now headed to President Donald Trump, who is expected to sign it, would come as the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Stability, or CARES, Act ends this month and would serve as an extension through December 2021. 

Rep. Mike Garcia, R-Santa Clarita, said Monday afternoon ahead of Congress’ vote, which came just before midnight Eastern Standard Time, that he planned to vote in support of the bill. 

“While this bill isn’t perfect, it funnels resources where they are most needed without the unnecessary spending found in (House Speaker Nancy) Pelosi’s $3 (trillion) COVID-19 relief proposals,” he said in a prepared statement. “As a fiscal conservative the size of this bill is staggering. But in the end, it is needed and may still not be enough for some small businesses and individuals who are suffering.” 

Also on Monday, Gov. Gavin Newsom shared during a live state briefing a series of estimates California could expect from the $900 billion.  

“These are back-of-the-envelope estimates, but I wanted to at least get people a sense of roughly what we anticipate here in California to be the benefits of the federal COVID relief,” said Newsom. “They are significant. They’ll need to do more in the future, but nonetheless, they are significant. Most significant is direct money in your pocket.” 

California residents could receive $300 a week for 11 weeks — from the end of Dec. 26 through March 14 — in unemployment benefits for a total of $20 billion that could be allocated to the state, Newsom said, stressing, again, these are estimated figures. 

Taxpayers making up to $75,000 and couples earning $150,000 can expect stimulus checks of $600 — half of what was provided under the first round of direct payments under the CARES Act. Those with children younger than 17 will receive an additional $600 per child. California is estimated to receive $17 billion in direct payments, an increase from the $15.3 billion the state previously received, said Newsom. Checks could be sent via mail, direct deposit or a prepaid debit card. 

The COVID-19 relief bill also includes $325 billion in small business relief, including $284 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program, which is designed to offer a direct incentive for small businesses to keep their workers on the payroll.

Of the $25 billion made available in rental assistance and $82 billion for education, California could expect to receive about $2 billion and $8.5 billion, respectively, according to Newsom. 

“That is very, very significant and important relief,” said Newsom on rental assistance, adding that he is working with the state Legislature on potentially extending the statewide ban on eviction that offers protections to renters through Feb.1, 2021. “We are in that process as we speak. That, obviously, can be complementary, potentially, any moratorium, eviction, forbearance, foreclosure, mortgages across the board, spectrum, not just rental but also commercial.”  

Federal aid has also made available $69 billion for testing, tracing and vaccines, of which the state could receive about $1.3 billion, the governor added. These funds would come as nearly all of California’s 58 counties continue to show widespread levels of COVID-19 and as three of the five state regions have 15% or less available intensive care unit capacity. 

With $10 billion budgeted for child care and $45 billion for the transportation sector, California could receive $1 billion and $2 billion, respectively, according to Newsom. 

The coronavirus relief deal also includes $7 billion in broadband support and $26 billion for nutrition and agricultural assistance, such as $13 billion to increase SNAP benefits. 

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