More Covid relief coming to Guam and CNMI



Residents of Guam and the CNMI who are eligible to receive federal assistance under the Covid relief package will get more security blanket until December next year through the 2021 federal spending bill which is headed to the White House for President Trump's signature.


The U.S. Senate and House gave their nod to the spending measure that includes $908 billion in Covid relief for individuals, businesses, schools and healthcare.

“It has been more than six months since Congress passed the first stimulus package, and this nearly $900 billion coronavirus relief package could not have come at a better time. Our people, and people across the nation, have been impacted by Covid-19, and no one can deny that federal assistance is needed," Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero said.


"We have worked personally with the National Governors Association to ensure Guam was included in coronavirus relief efforts for the states and territories. As discussions were ongoing, we made contact with key leaders in the Senate and Speaker Nancy Pelosi of the House. And our advocacy of the Team Guam message was heard in the White House and among members of the incoming Biden Administration," she added.


Guam Congressman Michael San Nicolas said Trump noted the overwhelming support for the measure.


“Unemployment extended to March, stimulus at $600, a second round of PPP, $75 million in rental assistance, and more is likely to make its way to Guam and our people with a Christmas kickoff,” San Nicolas said.


“While we have thanked many in Congress for helping us ensure our people are included, we would like to take this opportunity to thank the Lord for the blessings on our people, and a Merry blessed Christmas.”


San Nicolas said the final package is going to send a $600 in stimulus payment per taxpayer, $300 in enhanced unemployment benefits, $300 billion for the small business loan program, and much more.


CNMI Rep. Gregorio Sablan said unemployed workers can now breath a little easier as their weekly federal assistance will be extended.


“Teachers and staff, who knew PSS was running out of money to pay them and keep our schools operating, can now breathe easy," he said.


“Taxpayers will get a second impact payment, which means $2,400 for a family of four. Businesses and non-profits that have seen their revenues collapse will get a second opportunity for a forgivable Paycheck Protection Program loan. And Congress has doubled down on healthcare funding to help with testing, tracing, and the vaccine roll-out.” he added.


He said the CNMI will receive $14 million additional food stamp funding in August, which is more than the $11.5 million that Gov. Ralph Torres requested.


Sablan said he was also able to include an amendment to FEMA’s Community Disaster Loan program. The loans are generally only for municipalities, not state-level governments like the Commonwealth. The amendment Sablan included makes the Commonwealth eligible. In addition, Sablan lifted the cap of $5 million that normally applies and allowed FEMA to base funding on the tax loss and unbudgeted expenses related to a disaster. The Commonwealth expects the Community Disaster Loan from Super Typhoon Yutu to be in excess of $90 million. And the loan will be forgivable.


“One of the biggest roadblocks to Covid relief was that Republicans in the Senate are opposed to giving any relief to state and territorial governments,” Sablan said. “As a result, there is no direct aid to governments in the bill passed today. However, by including the CDL language we will be able to get the Commonwealth what other states and territories did not get: a significant amount of operating capital to provide public services.”


. A special Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program ran from March to July with a $600 weekly payment. And a Pandemic Unemployment Assistance base payment of up to $345 weekly began with the CARES Act and is set to run out this month.


"With passage of the new Covid relief package FPUC will restart with $300 weekly through March 14; and PUA will continue through April 5," Sablan said.


“We also spelled out very specifically that CW workers, who get laid off because of coronavirus, are eligible for PUA and FPUC,” Congressman Sablan said. “This is what Congress intended in the CARES Act, but the Department of Labor blocked it. Now, CW workers will be eligible for PUA and FPUC."