Representative Meeks releases political plan for coronavirus crisis

On March 24, Congressman Meeks released a political plan setting out his priorities for coronavirus response legislation:

“The response of Congress to the coronavirus pandemic must be immediate, and it must be comprehensive to utilize all aspects of industry and government capable of dealing with the disruption caused by this pandemic. Congress must provide substantial relief to families and small businesses that need help, by making it as fair as possible while cutting down on tedious paperwork. We need to create incentives for retired healthcare professionals whom we will need to volunteer for, encourage banks to forbear and offer capital, and ensure that any government bailouts to the industry are conditioned. to help the workers most affected by this crisis. It is only through a comprehensive and creative policy that we will mitigate the worst health and economic consequences of the coronavirus, ”said Representative Gregory W. Meeks.


A number of strong proposals called for sending direct deposits to Americans. We need to do this as soon as possible, and multiple payments are required if the economy remains moribund. My plan makes two crucial adjustments to these proposals.

  1. Cost of living adjustment

With more than half of the confirmed cases in New York City, the state has become the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak. New York is also one of the most expensive places in the country to live. If there is no cost of living adjustment, any direct deposit plan would be worth less for those hardest hit. A COLA adjustment does not mean high cost areas would get more; it just means they get the same purchasing power parity. By adding a COLA adjustment, we increase fairness.

  1. Post-crisis resource test (if applicable)

Under the original Senate bill, a small business owner who had a banner year in 2018 but now has no income at all would receive zero dollars. There is a need for everyone to get their money now, and if there is to be a means test for this brew, it should take place later in the 2021 tax season. If we are to check the resources, it won’t. should only occur when an individual exceeds an income threshold (~ 200K) in 2020.

  2. Providing $ 150 billion to hospitals
  3. Tax credit for all physicians and nurses coming out of retirement

We are already facing a shortage of healthcare workers. Any doctor or nurse who comes out of retirement and works during the crisis should receive a tax credit of $ 5,000.

  1. Tax credit to all companies that produce masks, ventilators and tests

We need to encourage companies to shift from manufacturing non-essential consumer products to essential PPE and medical equipment. I applaud those who have already taken these steps, but I want to sideline even more companies.


As Chairs of the Consumer Protection and Financial Institutions Subcommittee, Rep Meeks suggests that the use of financial institutions be a source of strength in this crisis. Under this proposal, banks must show tolerance and work with people who are going through difficult times. Congress should:

  1. HR 5322 Pass

My bill will help small community banks and minority deposit-taking institutions access capital at a time when it is desperately important. It will help the banks to help others.

  1. Suspend all payments on payday loans

Payday loans are often a bane to our financial systems in good times. Given our current economic reality, all payday loan payments should be immediately suspended.

  1. Boost regulators for an indefinite period Current expected credit loss accounting standard (CECL)

The proposed CECL standard will force financial institutions to raise additional capital and add uncertainty to the system. It must be delayed.

  1. Push regulators to suspend all regulations unrelated to the pandemic

Regulators and financial institutions should focus on the current crisis. This proposal would temporarily suspend all regulations unrelated to the coronavirus pandemic.

  1. Amend the Federal Reserve Act to stabilize the municipal bond market

Municipal bond markets are in turmoil, as state and local governments see their tax revenues plummet and health and unemployment spending increases dramatically. The Federal Reserve Act should be amended to temporarily allow the Fed to purchase long-term municipal debt until this crisis is over.


While Congress is appropriately providing funding for the Small Business Administration to provide it to entities across the country, they are still in dire straits and will need more support. Rep Meeks’ proposal would ask:

  1. Lower the SBA interest rate

The SBA still charges around 2.75% to 3.75% interest on most loans. This must be equal to or close to zero. While small businesses need a lifeline with loans, this proposal aims to ensure they don’t get into debt when trying to recover.

  1. Small business gift card tax deduction

All gift cards purchased during the crisis at local restaurants, bars, hair salons, salons and similar entities should be tax deductible. This will encourage people with resources now to provide money to small businesses to keep their employees and help them stay afloat in the months to come.

  1. Pass HR 5617 and give extra relief to gig economy workers

HR 5617, introduced by Rep Meeks, ensures that taxi drivers who have benefited from debt relief will not have to pay taxes on this debt relief. Many drivers are being hit hard right now because they are neither technically unemployed nor small business owners. We have to help them. In addition, a rescue fund should be created for all drivers who have seen their income drop drastically.

  1. Legislation passed allowing penalty-free withdrawals from specialized retirement and savings accounts

This will help individuals and small business owners who need immediate cash to get cash right now.


This proposal aims to extend, expand and reform unemployment insurance. The unemployed would be fully compensated, job search requirements would be temporarily lifted and the eligibility period would be extended to 39 weeks.


Airlines and airports each need cash in the wake of the crisis, so millions of workers can keep their jobs. Airlines and airports are each expected to receive $ 50 billion in federal bailout funds, part of which should be grants and the other part loans.

This federal relief should be made conditional on the airline industry maintaining its current workforce and not participating in any share buybacks for five years after the passage of a congressional stimulus package.


The hospitality industry is also expected to receive federal funds, again on condition that it maintains its current workers. Beneficiary companies should be prevented from concluding share buyback agreements for five years and should facilitate the organization of their workers.


Past experience teaches us that minorities and under-represented women will suffer the economic consequences of the current crisis first, the hardest and take the longest to recover. Unemployment of blacks has remained double that of white Americans in cycles of economic growth and recessions, and their net assets are a fraction of that of their white peers. Minority business owners and women have less access to capital and business loans, and do so on less favorable financial terms. And minorities and women leaders remain severely under-represented on boards and in senior management, despite ample evidence that diverse leadership generates higher returns for investors and more stable, resilient management. As such, any coronavirus stimulus package should include:

  • Reserves for businesses owned by minorities and women;
  • Inclusion of minority and women owned asset managers, investment banks and securities brokers in structuring bailouts and executing transactions;
  • Participation of minority depositories and community development financial institutions in Federal Reserve Board market liquidity and loan guarantee programs, as well as Small Business Administration stimulus initiatives;
  • Minimum diversity requirement for senior management and boards as a prerequisite for any business receiving government bailout funds or accessing Fed liquidity facilities

Any large business or non-bank financial institution that accesses coronavirus stimulus funding or government-funded market liquidity facilities should be required to negotiate and publish low- and moderate-income community engagement pledges. This program could work in a manner similar to the Community Reinvestment Act, a key civil rights law that applies to banks, and requires them to reinvest in the communities where they operate. In the same way that the Community Reinvestment Act has been a key piece of legislation to help redress the generational harm of redlining and divestment in minority and low-income communities, such a program is applicable to a wider set of businesses and services. financial institutions could stimulate significant investments in the communities served.


The coronavirus is the cause of this crisis, so there is no safer way to end the crisis than with a vaccine. Congress should require the FDA to release real-time coronavirus vaccine data and urge the FDA to ensure it does not impose unnecessary barriers to vaccine development. Congress is expected to pass a resolution now stating that it will use all available tools to promote vaccine development and end this crisis.

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