Maloney Statement for the Congressional Record on H.R. 748, the CARES Act

Mar 27, 2020
Press Release

Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY), today submitted the following statement to the Congressional Record on H.R. 748, the CARES Act.

My home is again an epicenter for a national disaster. Today, New York City is the frontline of the war against the spread of coronavirus; the United States now has the most confirmed COVID-19 cases in the world, and New York City has, by far, the most cases in the United States, reaching more than 23,000 as of this morning.  New Yorkers are facing this crisis with strength and optimism and we, as we have so often, are providing a model for the other cities and states that will confront similar challenges in the days and weeks to come. 

My constituents always come first. If I thought that I could help them at this time by breaking every bit of expert medical guidance on containing the coronavirus, then I would travel to the Capitol in a heartbeat. But with the outcome assured, I can best serve my constituents and New York by following best practices and staying here, facing down this crisis with the strength for which New Yorkers are justly known.

Had I been present, I would have voted to pass this emergency relief legislation to get immediate help to our hospitals, small businesses, and individual Americans. Let me be clear: this is disaster relief to address the immediate crisis in front of us; there is much more that needs to be done to help restart the economy, and we will be turning our efforts to that as soon as this $2 trillion relief package is signed into law.

This bill is not perfect, but it is essential that we act now. With this bill, more than $40 billion will flow to New York — not just for the state and city but directly to our hospitals and healthcare workers and small businesses, particularly for employee retention. There will also be direct payments to individuals and significantly more resources for those who have lost their job because of this crisis.

This bill includes important wins for progressive policy proposals that Democrats fought for, including:

  • a large investment in hospitals, our health system, and state and local governments to give them the resources they need during this emergency;
  • a massive increase in unemployment insurance benefits so that these benefits match the average paycheck of laid-off and furloughed workers;
  • a significant expansion of fast relief for small businesses, including making rent, mortgages, and utility costs eligible for Small Business Administration (SBA) loan forgiveness;
  • billions of dollars for emergency education funding and the elimination of income tax on student loan repayment assistance by an employer; and
  • accountability and oversight by preventing secret bailouts and adding special oversight requirements.

Importantly for New Yorkers, this expansion of unemployment insurance covers all workers, whether they work for small or larger business, are self-employed, or work in the gig economy. Of the $260 billion dedicated for this proposal, $15 billion is projected to come home to New York. Additionally, a relief fund for state and local governments is projected to send at least $5.8 billion to New York State and more than $1.4 billion to New York City.

This legislation puts workers first by banning stock buybacks and limiting executive compensation for the duration that a company is receiving government assistance plus one year for any company that receives a government loan from this bill. It also establishes robust worker protections attached to most federal loans for businesses. There will be real-time public reporting of any transactions by the Treasury Department under this bill, including terms of loans, investments, and other assistance to corporations. Democrats also added a retention tax credit for employers to encourage all businesses to keep workers on the payroll during this crisis and removed the “secret bailout” provision of the initial Republican proposal that would have allowed bailouts to be concealed for 6 months. 

As Chair of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, I am proud that the committee will be at the forefront of fulfilling Congress’ vitally important Constitutional responsibility to conduct oversight of the distribution of funds to corporations under this legislation.

The bill includes important provisions to ensure that taxpayer dollars are used effectively and efficiently, including dedicated funding and enhanced authorities for Inspectors General and the independent Government Accountability Office to fight waste, fraud, and abuse in the government spending that will happen under this bill.

The bill includes several provisions that I, along with my counterpart in the Senate, Senator Gary Peters, offered. Among the provisions we are adopting today are, as follows:

  • Pandemic Response Accountability Committee: The Pandemic Response Accountability Committee will be made up of independent Inspectors General who will conduct and coordinate audits and investigations to provide accountability and identify waste, fraud, and abuse in spending under the Act and the response to the coronavirus crisis. This provision will help ensure that Inspectors General have the authorities and funding necessary to conduct oversight, including access to documents and testimony from government officials and private sector entities. The bill requires extensive public reporting through Oversight.gov on what the Inspectors General find during their oversight, and it requires agencies to report information about spending under the bill.

 

  • $20 Million for Government Accountability Office:  The bill allocates $20 million to enable the independent Government Accountability Office (GAO) to help Congress conduct oversight of the spending under this bill and other efforts to respond to the crisis. The bill provides GAO with the ability to conduct oversight and inspections of private entities receiving funding under the bill to protect against fraud.

 

The bill also includes several other oversight initiatives including:

  • Special Inspector General for Pandemic Recovery: The bill establishes a Special Inspector General to conduct oversight over stimulus spending by the Department of the Treasury. The bill requires the Special Inspector General to track all loans, loan guarantees, and other obligations and expenditures made by the Treasury Department under the bill. The bill provides $25 million for the Special Inspector General and authorizes the position for five years.

 

  • Congressional Oversight Commission: The bill includes the establishment of a Congressional Oversight Commission to oversee stimulus spending by the Department of Treasury and the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve. The Commission will be tasked with evaluating issues such as the impact of loans, loan guarantees, and investments made under the bill on the United States people, economy, financial markets, and financial institutions. The Commission will be required to submit reports to Congress every 30 days. 

 

Finally, the bill includes mechanisms to prevent the airline industry from using taxpayer funds for purposes Congress never intended, as the industry did after 9/11.

To prevent a repeat of these abuses, the House and Senate worked together to establish clear requirements for expectations and accountability, including:

  • Required Assurances from Air Carriers: The bill requires air carriers to agree to certain conditions in order to accept loans or loan guarantees from the Secretary of the Treasury. These conditions impose limitations on the ability of air carriers to buy back stocks, pay dividends to shareholders, layoff or furlough employees, and increase executive pay.

In closing, I want to offer my deepest appreciation to the Democratic negotiating team, led by our peerless Speaker and Minority Leader Schumer, which so dramatically improved the legislation from the original bill that Senate Republicans initially tried to pass. The achievement of this legislation is not the speed with which it was assembled, but the breadth of its vision to focus on direct assistance to individuals and conditioning so much of the aid to companies on keeping our friends and neighbors employed. Getting through this moment in history will be eased for many because of the hard-won provisions of this legislation achieved by the Democrats.

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