What’s Happening With Federal COVID-19 Relief?

What’s Happening With Federal COVID-19 Relief?

We Actually Explain The News


Representative Lloyd Doggett's office answers our readers questions about federal COVID-19 relief and the CARES Act.

Austinites You Should Know

About the Author

Amy Stansbury is the Editor-In-Chief of The Austin Common.

You’ve seen the headlines. Trillions of dollars in federal aid are supposed to be coming our way, but what does that mean exactly? Over the past week, we worked with Representative Lloyd Doggett’s office to collect your questions about federal COVID-19 relief and get them answered!


FYI – Lloyd Doggett represents Texas District 35 in Congress (which includes parts of east Austin and San Antonio).


You can watch our full Q&A video with Erin Gurak, district director for Representative Lloyd Doggett below.


Not sure what we’re talking about here? Last week, Congress passed the CARES Act, about $2 trillion of funding for state and local governments, small businesses, and individuals.


Here are some of the highlights of the bill:

  • Direct cash payments for individuals making less than $99,000 a year. Anyone making less than $75,000 will receive a one-time $1,200 payment.

  • Forgivable loans for small businesses to pay their workers

  • Increased payments for unemployment assistance, as well as expanded eligibility

Unsurprisingly, with so many people in need, and so many changes happening so fast, there have been a lot of questions and hiccups in turning these programs into a reality. Lots of reports have come through of banks not being able to handle all the businesses applying for loans and many trying to apply for unemployment benefits have been met with frustratingly long wait times.


“Well, first I’ll say, we know it’s a problem,” Erin said. “And we know that it’s really putting people in tough spots…That is part of the discussion, knowing that with the massive influx of applications and interest, we will need to provide more federal funding.”


Erin addresses these concerns in greater detail in our Q&A video attached, and explains what the federal government is doing to make sure money continues to go out in support of everything from small businesses to health care.


In the meantime, the City of Austin has just created the RISE Fund, which will provide $15 million to Austin families in need.

As Council Member Greg Casar wrote on his Facebook page earlier today after Council voted to officially create the fund…

“Now, it’s our job to get this $15 million in relief to families quickly. We know people are struggling to get on unemployment benefits. We know federal help is coming too slow and in some cases, not coming at all.


That’s why the City took this big step today. We must save hundreds of lives during this crisis. And we also must protect people’s ability to make ends meet.”


And if you are having trouble receiving federal benefits, Erin recommends calling Representative Doggett’s Office at 512-916-5921 or emailing lloyd.doggett@mail.house.gov.


“We’re here and we’re open,” Erin said. “And we’re all tele-working, but still working on our constituents’ behalf and happy to answer any questions about CARES and take feedback on what people would like to see in the next [relief] package as well.”


For additional information about federal COVID-19 relief, you can check out these resources:

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