Durbin, Duckworth Outline Illinois Priorities Included in Senate-Passed Bipartisan COVID-19 Pandemic Relief Bill

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) today released the following statements after the Senate unanimously passed the third coronavirus stimulus package – the Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act.  The bill now heads to the House of Representatives, where it is expected to pass tomorrow. 

“This historic bill puts heath care workers and hospitals first, providing the vital resources they’ll need to care for Illinoisans affected by this virus. Additionally, the bill makes extraordinary investments for families who are struggling, workers who are laid off, small businesses that are trying to stay afloat, and industries on the brink of collapse,” Durbin said.  “I’m glad the Senate came together on a bipartisan basis to unanimously pass this bill, which will help families in Illinois and across the country.”

“Illinois and Governor Pritzker acted quickly to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak, but our state—like the rest of the country—is still struggling to respond to a public health and economic crisis of a scale few of us have ever seen. This compromise bill will provide much needed support and relief for workers, small business owners, hospitals and health care providers as well as finally reimburse the state of Illinois and our local governments for the massive costs they’ve incurred to keep our citizens safe while helping prepare our state for recovery,” said Duckworth. “I’m proud to support this bipartisan compromise—even though it is not perfect—and will continue working with Senator Durbin to find more ways to help our communities weather this pandemic.”

This bill includes the following priorities for Illinois:

Hospitals:  Provides $100 billion in direct, emergency funding to meet the immediate needs of front-line hospitals and health providers who have been strained by the coronavirus response. Illinois is projected to be eligible for billions of dollars of emergency funding for health providers and facilities.   The grant funding is available for non-reimbursable COVID-19 expenditures (surge staffing, equipment acquisition, construction) and lost revenues (such as cancelled procedures), including both future costs and costs already incurred.  The bill also provides for advanced and increased Medicare payments to hospitals and expands telehealth services.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):  Includes $4.3 billion for CDC prevention and response activities (including test kit supplies), including $1.5 billion for state and local health departments—providing an estimated $16 million for the Illinois Department of Public Health and an additional $9 million for the Chicago Department of Public Health.

Community Health Centers (CHCs):  Provides $1.3 billion in supplemental funding for CHCs, while also extending the authorization for their mandatory funding to November 30.

Strategic National Stockpile (SNS): Appropriates $16 billion to replenish the Strategic National Stockpile with personal protective equipment (PPEs), and broadens the type of medical equipment required to be stored (to include NIOSH-approved masks).

Seniors, Children, and Nutrition:  Appropriates $820 million in Older Americans Act funding for senior meals services and family caregiver programs. Provides $8.8 billion in supplemental funding for child nutrition programs, $450 million for TEFAP (food pantry funding), and $15.5 billion in additional SNAP funding.  

State Fiscal Stabilization Fund: $150 billion in direct federal grant funding to states, local governments, and tribes to help fund COVID-19 response and free up state and local funding for essential services and payroll.  Illinois will receive an estimated $5 billion in direct federal funding under the program. 

Assistance for Airports: $10 billion in increased Airport Improvement Program grants to help Illinois airports continue to operate amid the largest air travel downturn in history and pay for additional costs related to COVID-19 response.

Relief for Transit Agencies: $25 billion in federal transit formula funding to keep public transit operating throughout Illinois in order to ensure continued access to jobs, medical treatment, food, and other essential services.  Illinois transit agencies will receive an estimated $1.6 billion in federal transit funding including $800 million for the CTA, over $400 million for Metra, and over $100 million for Pace.

Air Maintenance and Suppliers: Specific language providing eligibility for air maintenance (MRO) industry in the $25 billion in loans set aside for passenger airlines. This would apply to AAR Corp, which has two Illinois facilities in Rockford and Wood Dale.

Commission on America’s Medical Security Act: A bipartisan bill introduced by Durbin and Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) to safeguard America’s medical supply chain and address shortages due to the United States’ dependence on foreign-made medical equipment. The bill establishes a $1.5 million study by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine to look into U.S. dependence on foreign-made medical equipment and develop an action plan to boost domestic manufacturing and stockpiles.

Student Loan Relief: The bill suspends student loan monthly payments for 6 months.

Education Stabilization Fund: $30.75 billion to school districts and institutions of higher education.

Disaster Relief Fund: $45 billion in additional funding for the Disaster Relief Fund, which more than doubles the available funding to assist states and private non-profits performing critical services under the President’s emergency declaration.  The Fund can be used for things like personal protective equipment as well as reimburse costs of National Guard deployments, something Durbin and Duckworth have called on the Federal Government to do.

Eviction Moratorium: 120-day eviction moratorium for renters in federally-assisted housing.

Mortgage Forbearance: Prohibits foreclosures on all federally-backed mortgage loans for 60-days.  Provides up to 360 days of forbearance for borrowers of a federally-backed mortgage loan.

Relief for Amtrak and State 209 Partners: More than $1 billion in funding for Amtrak including $239 million state supported routes that will cover Illinois Amtrak costs.

Small Business Administration (SBA): Includes nearly $350 billion to provide forgivable loans to small businesses and non-profits to maintain existing workforce and help pay for rent, mortgage, and utilities; $10 billion for SBA emergency grants of up to $10,000; and $17 billion for SBA to cover 6 months of payments for existing SBA loans.

Increased Housing Assistance: $3 billion in rental assistance to help more than 4.5 million low-income households in federally-assisted housing and $4 billion to assist individuals and families experiencing homelessness. 

Support for Labs Conducting COVID-19 Research: $99.5 million for the Office of Science, including for labs and their equipment, technological, and personnel needs.

Unemployment Insurance:  Creates a federally funded Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program that expands unemployment to individuals who are not currently covered, including self-employed and gig economy workers.  The bill provides $600 per week per worker in additional unemployment compensation for four months, helping to provide full wage replacement for many workers.  More than 100,000 unemployment insurance claims were filed in Illinois last week.

Broadband: $100 million for USDA’s ReConnect program and $25 million for distance learning and telemedicine in rural areas.  The bill also provides $200 million for the Federal Communications Commission’s Connected Care Pilot Program to support telehealth.

Veterans Affairs: Includes $19.5 billion for the VA, including $15.8 billion in funds for direct medical care, as well as $3 billion to strengthen VA Facilities and Information Technology systems to support telemedicine.  The bill also includes $150 million in additional construction grants for State Veterans Homes to help support any necessary renovation efforts to response to coronavirus.

National Guard: The bill includes $1.4 billion to sustain up to 20,000 members of the National Guard, under the direction of the governors of each state including Illinois, for the next six months in order to support state and local response efforts.

Defense Production Act (DPA): The bill includes $1 billion to allow the Department of Defense to invest in manufacturing capabilities that are key to increasing the production rate of personal protective equipment and medical equipment to meet the demand of healthcare workers all across the nation. Durbin and Duckworth have frequently urged the Administration to quickly use its authorities under the DPA to increase production and support the supply chain.

Bureau of Prisons (BOP): Provides $100 million for BOP to prepare for and respond to the pandemic inside federal prisons and gives BOP discretion to extend pre-release home confinement from a maximum of 6 months to a maximum of 12 months.

Election assistance: Provides $400 million for states to help prepare for the 2020 election cycle, including an estimated $13.9 million for Illinois, by increasing the ability to vote by mail, expanding early voting and online registration, and increasing the safety of voting in-person by providing additional voting facilities and more poll-workers.

Law Enforcement: Includes $31.9 million in Byrne-JAG grant program funding for Illinois law enforcement to buy personal protective equipment.  

Firefighters: Illinois fire departments can apply for Assistance for Firefighter grants, of which $100 million would be available nationwide, to buy personal protective equipment.