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Schumer, Ossoff, Warnock outline COVID-19 relief for Georgians

On the first full day of the Democratic majority in the Senate, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer,...
On the first full day of the Democratic majority in the Senate, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., left, is joined by Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., center, and Sen. Jon Ossoff, D-Ga., with Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev., who chaired the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, far right, at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021. The pivotal Georgia runoff election this month was decisive in handing Democrats the majority in the Senate.(J. Scott Applewhite | AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Published: Feb. 11, 2021 at 8:25 PM EST
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WASHINGTON, D.C. (WALB) - Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Georgia U.S. Sens. Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock outlined COVID-19 relief the two senators are working to deliver to Georgia families Thursday morning.

“Sen. Warnock and I are here to deliver for Georgia families who are counting on us for aid during this pandemic,” Ossoff said. “This bill will send $8,200 in new federal financial support to an average working family of four in Georgia while we invest massively in vaccines and the health response to end this pandemic.”

Warnock said. “The people of Georgia sent Sen. Ossoff and I to the Senate with a mandate to address the devastation of this public health and economic crisis — for our state, and the country. Getting this once-in-a-century pandemic under control starts with securing as much relief as possible to as many Georgians as possible—and I’m going to keep pushing until it’s done.”

The three also outlined the following aid that is being sought for Georgians under President Joe Biden’s “American Rescue Plan”:

  • Direct payments: In the plan, a family of four earning $75,000 annually would receive a total of $5,600 in direct payments from the relief bill. They would also see a $2,600 increase in benefits through an enhanced child tax credit. Between these two benefits, a family would receive $8,200 in additional, direct relief.
  • Medicaid expansion incentive: If accepted by the state, a Medicaid expansion incentive would provide health care to approximately 500,000 Georgians that Ossoff’s office said are currently locked out of any financial assistance for health coverage. Georgia would receive nearly $2 billion in additional Medicaid spending over two years if it expands Medicaid.
  • Higher education funding: The American Rescue Plan will include a Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF), which would provide an estimated $1.2 billion in direct grants to institutions in Georgia. In addition, Historically Black Colleges and Universities, minority-serving institutions, and tribal colleges and universities would receive a 7.5 percent share of the HEERF fund, which accounts for nearly $3 billion in relief.
  • Relief for Black farmers: The American Rescue Plan will provide debt relief and support for Black, indigenous, and farmers of color who have faced historic discrimination, been disproportionately affected by COVID-19, and largely left out of the previous administration’s emergency COVID programs, according to Ossoff’s office.
  • Rental and mortgage assistance: Both Ossoff and Warnock are building on the $710 million for rental assistance from the December COVID package, and the two are working to secure at least $550 million more in this package. Georgia is also likely to get over $200 million in new homeowner assistance fund that will allow low and moderate-income families to pay their mortgage and utility costs, according to Ossoff’s office.
  • Vaccine distribution: The bill provides $20 billion in vaccine distribution funding, including for CDC and FEMA to set up state and federal distribution sites, outreach and education campaigns, support for states to fund vaccinators and more.
  • K-12 school funding: The American Rescue Plan will include an Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSERF) which will provide Georgia with an estimated $4.4 billion in emergency relief for schools to safely reopen across the state, according to Ossoff’s office. These flexible funds will allow schools to cover COVID-related expenses, reduce class size, implement social distancing guidelines, and address other instructional needs. In addition, school districts would be required to dedicate 20 percent of their allocations towards addressing learning loss.

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