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  • By Pacific island Times News Staff

Trump signs economic stimulus package

Guam stands to receive $111 million under CARE Act (Updated)

President Donald Trump today signed a $2 trillion bipartisan stimulus package that seeks to mitigate the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has caused the stock market collapse, business closures and mass joblessness.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act, “takes the positive step of treating U.S. territories as states in key provisions, including the DHS Disaster Relief Fund totaling $45 billion and CDC-wide activities totaling $4.3 billion,” according to Office of Rep. Gregorio “Kilili” Sablan, the CNMII’s delegate to Congress.

Guam Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero said Guam stands to receive $111 million from the stimulus package.

Under CARES Act, $3 billion are secured for making payments to the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the United States Virgin Islands, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and Guam.

The law also provides $200 million for nutritional assistance grants to Puerto Rico, CNMI and American Samoa.

The U.S. Department of the Interior also gets an appropriation of $55 million to assist the U.S. territories and the freely associated states prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus.

The $55 million in funding provided under the CARES Act will address impacts of the global coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in the islands through the Office of Insular Affairs Technical Assistance Program, according to the Department of the Interior.

The DOI funds will be amade available to American Samoa, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), and the U.S. Virgin Islands, as well as the freely associated states of the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau.

“Secretary Bernhardt and I are thankful for this funding from Congress and President Trump to help the island areas prepare, prevent, and respond to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic,” said DOI Assistant Secretary Doug Domenech. “The islands are especially vulnerable with healthcare systems that could be overwhelmed quickly and limited healthcare workers. Additionally, some areas are still recovering from recent natural disasters which put them in already fragile economic states,” continued Domenech. “We will continue to support the island areas and wish the island leadership all the best as they execute plans to protect and defend their communities.”

The CARES Act, along with the previously passed Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act and Families First Coronavirus Response Act, will also provide substantial assistance to the insular areas through other Federal departments. Hundreds of millions of dollars in assistance will be provided for financial relief to the insular governments, businesses, school systems, workers, and families, while also protecting the health of the communities.

Some examples include set asides of up to $154 million to the Department of Education for insular schools; $200 million in nutrition assistance funding through the Department of Agriculture; and potentially $272 million from the Department of Treasury Coronavirus Relief Fund. The Office of Insular Affairs is committed to working with our interagency and island partners to best deploy all available resources to combat the Coronavirus and its impacts on our territories and freely associated states.

CARES Act will ship payments of up to $1,200 to millions of Americans, increase unemployment benefits, offer loans, grants and tax breaks to businesses and ease the burden on the nation's overwhelmed health care system.

'Nevertheless, more steps need to be taken as soon as possible. It is not clear how direct assistance payments for individuals and applications for unemployment insurance in the territories will be processed," Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva, chair of the House's Natural Resources Committee, wrote in a column for El Nuevo Dia, which he co-authored with Rep. Gregorio Kilili Sablan.

"The pandemic has not just highlighted the cracks in what we think of as everyday life. It’s put a bright spotlight on many communities we’ve ignored, neglected and conveniently forgotten about. Allowing millions of Americans across the country to live in poverty, with substandard housing and medical care, was always a policy choice, not an inevitable economic necessity, and the cost of that choice in human lives is now going up every day. We are concerned that that will be especially true for residents of the territories. Congress must not ignore them any longer."

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