BALTIMORE (WMAR) — Congress has passed a $900 billion pandemic relief package, that will bring close to $9 billion to Maryland to help families, small businesses, and local governments. Tuesday, U.S. Senators Chris Van Hollen and Ben Cardin held a virtual press conference to talk about the impact it will have on Marylanders.
"This is a comprehensive bill, so many good things are in it,"said Cardin.
It includes $600 direct payments to most Americans, $300 a week in enhanced unemployment benefits, millions for emergency rental aid, local school systems for broadband and HVAC repairs, and health departments for vaccine distribution and testing, and much more.
The bill also provides almost $300 billion to the Small Business Association for forgivable small business loans, grants to businesses in low-income communities and grants for shuttered live venues and cultural institutions. Restaurants will also get more help with eligibility for additional forgivable loans.
"I think it’s really gonna help save restaurants in Maryland. The entertainment venues, our museums, our cultural institutions. I think it’s going to be a major help to preserve small businesses," said Cardin.
This bill also extends the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program and the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program.
The senators acknowledge the bill doesn't everything we will need to get through the pandemic, but it will bring much needed economic relief for the next few months.
"This has been a long time coming . It does provide critical relief at this moment for our country. It will get us through the very tough winter months as we continue to fight the pandemic," said Van Hollen.
The COVID-19 relief bill was attached to a must-pass $1.4 trillion spending bill, making it the second-largest economic stimulus in U.S. history.
The larger bill includes funding to address the violence in Baltimore and Chesapeake Bay restoration efforts. The bill has been sent to President Donald Trump for his signature, expected in the coming days.