U.S. Senate

The steps of the U.S. Senate in Washington, D.C.

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Ohio Senators Rob Portman and Sherrod Brown were among those who voted unanimously Wednesday night to approve a $2 trillion fiscal measure to assist Americans and the national economy during the COVID-18 pandemic.

The vote sends the the largest fiscal stimulus package in modern American history to the House, where it is expected to be approved today and sent to President Trump for his signature.

Both Ohio senators applauded Senate passage of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. 

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The CARES Act will help American families, workers, and employers large and small around the nation during this coronavirus pandemic. 

“This historic effort is designed to help workers, families, employers, and health professionals weather the enormous impact of the coronavirus pandemic," said Portman, a Republican.

Rob Portman on Senate Floor

U.S. Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) addresses the Senate.

"This measure includes billions to support our hospitals and health care providers, provides additional funding for the CDC to put in place more testing and to better collect data to track the virus, provides a significant increase in unemployment insurance benefits for workers who have been laid off, and authorizes loans to businesses, small and large, to help keep their workers on their payrolls," he said.

Brown, a Democrat, said the government needs to move quickly to fight the coronavirus pandemic and get resources to the people who need help.

"This month, I’ve been talking to Ohioans from all walks of life and asking what they need to keep our state healthy and safe. This package reflects a lot of those priorities, including money going directly in the pockets of workers, expanding Unemployment Insurance and critical supplies and resources for our frontline health care workers,” Brown said.

Sherrod Brown Profile.JPG

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) (Richland Source file photo)

“I will do everything I can to make sure we get resources quickly to the Ohioans who need it – and to make sure money actually ends up in the pockets of workers, not CEOs. We will need robust oversight of these programs to hold corporations as well as the Trump administration accountable, and to guarantee that these corporations put their workers first. I’ll also be working to secure stronger provisions to keep renters and homeowners in their homes and to protect Americans’ credit scores," Brown said.

The CARES Act includes a number of important provisions to help workers, families, employers, and health professionals. Specifically, the bill:

· Includes $150 billion for health care providers to support the nation’s hospitals, doctors and nurses;

· Provides $4.3 billion to support the CDC and state and local health departments as they identify every potential case;

· Provides accelerated payment opportunities for hospitals supporting vulnerable populations like children’s hospitals, rural hospitals, and specialty cancer hospitals like Ohio State’s The James, to help them maintain cash flows while they voluntarily suspend elective procedures to conserve PPE for providers treating COVID-19 patients. Portman worked with his Finance Committee Chairman Grassley to help secure this;

· Provides direct financial assistance to families in need, including $1,200 for individuals making less than $75,000 and $2,400 for couples making less than $150,000. Families with children would be eligible for an additional $500 per child;

· Includes a four-month, historic increase in unemployment insurance benefits, including expanding benefit eligibility to cover self-employed individuals, government workers, and nonprofit employees, to provide low- and medium-income individuals who lose their jobs through no fault of their own with full wage replacement;

· Provides $350 billion in small business loans for companies with under 500 employees that effectively become grants if those loans are used to keep workers on payroll, make rent and mortgage payments, or pay utilities;

· Includes $500 billion in immediate tax relief for businesses of all sizes, including provisions such as payroll tax deferral and the ability to immediately monetize tax losses;

· Creates a new fund established through the Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve to provide loans and loan guarantees to businesses and industries that have been particularly affected by the current crisis, such as airlines, hotels, restaurants, nonprofits, and more;

· Includes strong transparency and accountability safeguards for any company that accesses federal loans and creates a new federal inspector general to oversee these loans; and

· Provides $150 billion to support states and local governments that are impacted by the coronavirus to ensure they can continue to provide basic services for their citizens, including roughly $4.5 billion to Ohio.

Three senators were absent from the late-night roll call because of the virus. Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) has contracted COVID-19. Utah Republicans, Senators Mitt Romney and Mike Lee, were in self-isolation after spending time with Paul.

Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) also missed the vote because he wasn’t feeling well and left Washington to return home.