Congress and the Trump administration have tried to move quickly to address the COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing economic crisis through the passage of three relief bills.

Congress passed the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act on March 6, and the Families First Coronavirus Response Act on March 18. These pieces of legislation provided critical funding for vaccination development and health care agencies, as well as unemployment insurance for laid-off workers and reimbursements for businesses that give workers paid sick leave.

Largest Financial Aid Package in U.S. History

On March 27, Congress passed the $2.3 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the largest financial aid package in U.S. history.

“Most of the attention on the CARES Act has centered on the significant assistance available to small businesses through the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) loan guarantee programs,” CFC Vice President of Federal Relations Brandon McBride said. “Congress allocated $349 billion for the new Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and $10 billion for emergency Economic Injury Disaster Loans. These programs have drawn great interest, and the Trump administration has already requested an additional $251 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program, a request that has bipartisan support.”

CARES Act Member Resources

Members can learn more about the SBA programs by visiting the agency’s COVID-19 Small Business Guidance and Loan Resources page. The National Cooperative Business Association launched COVID-19 resources for the cooperative business community.

CFC members also can watch a replay of the April 8 CFC Financial Webinar Series special broadcast, “Can Co-ops Benefit from COVID-19 Relief Bills,” to learn more about federal assistance available to electric cooperatives and their members. Log in to the CFC Member Website and visit “Past Events” under the Events tab.

Additional Funds for Rural Communities

The CARES Act also targeted funding toward rural communities. The legislation directs:

  • $1 billion in lending authority for the U.S. Department of Agriculture Business and Industry Guaranteed Loan Program to support small businesses in rural areas.

  • $25 million for the Distance Learning and Telemedicine Program to continue the expansion of telemedicine services.

  • $100 million to continue efforts to expand rural broadband service through the Rural Utilities Service ReConnect Program.

“Congress is expected to take further action in response to the COVID-19 pandemic in the coming weeks,” McBride added. “In addition to the Trump administration’s request for more funding for the PPP, Congress likely will consider other mechanisms to further support individuals and small businesses in their response to the pandemic.”