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Rep. Ted Deutch
Rep. Ted Deutch. Photo by Sharon Aron Baron.

From U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.) 

Today I voted in favor of legislation to deliver desperately needed help to Americans struggling under the devastating COVID-19 pandemic. With the tragic number of infections, hospitalizations, and deaths rising across the nation, this legislation provides billions of dollars to help slow the spread of this virus and to accelerate equitable vaccine distribution that will finally bring this public health crisis to an end.

The bill includes emergency economic relief to American families, including direct payments of $600 per adult and child, expanded federal unemployment benefits of $300 per week, a 15 percent boost to SNAP  benefits, and funding to restock food banks that have been heroically feeding our communities every day. The bill provides $25 billion in rental assistance for families struggling to stay in their homes, expands low-income housing tax credits, strengthens the earned income tax credit and child tax credit, and provides a tax credit to support paid sick leave. The legislation will include billions in funding for colleges, schools, and child care providers.

The legislation also funds billions of dollars in assistance for struggling small businesses and other employers. The bill expands relief programs to include nonprofits, restaurants, and dedicated funding for struggling live venues, independent movie theaters, and cultural institutions that are the backbone of South Florida’s hospitality and tourism economy.

So many Americans are sick, and many more are struggling economically and worried about losing their jobs or their homes. While this bill provides important emergency relief, the final product is far from perfect. I am extremely disappointed that Republicans blocked additional unemployment benefit increases and refused to provide emergency funding for states and municipalities whose budgets have been drained responding to the pandemic.

In addition, I am upset that the White House blocked dedicated funding through the RESTAURANTS Act that would have provided stability and certainty to these essential local enterprises. I also strongly support larger direct relief payments to struggling Americans and wanted direct payments to young Americans and direct tuition assistance to college students. I will work toward these goals in the next round of congressional relief while understanding that when our government is divided, we must negotiate a compromise that has the support of both Democrats and Republicans.

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I also voted in favor of the year-end appropriations bill to fund our government and ensure that critical priorities are funded, including increased spending on education, housing, and nutrition programs. The funding bill devotes new funding to protecting our environment, reversing Trump Administration cuts to climate change programs, and provides $25 million in funding to the CDC and NIH for federal research into our nation’s gun violence epidemic. The legislation also provides $50 million for the new Nita M. Lowey Partnership for Peace Fund, which authorizes and encourages people-to-people exchanges and economic partnerships between Israelis and Palestinians.

I am especially proud that my legislation, the ‘Robert Levinson Hostage Recovery, and Hostage-Taking Accountability Act” was included in the spending bill. My legislation would empower the President to impose sanctions on those who take American hostages, mandate the appointment of a Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs, increase U.S. government engagement with families of hostages and those unlawfully or wrongfully detained, and mandate the creation of a Hostage Recovery Fusion Cell and interagency coordination to help free Americans unjustly held abroad. My constituent Bob Levinson was the longest-held American hostage, and his confinement and death was a devastating blow to his loving family. This new law will ensure that no other American family is left helpless when their loved one is held hostage abroad.

U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch

Florida’s 22nd District covers Boca Raton, Coconut Creek, Coral Springs, Deerfield Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Highland Beach. Hillsboro Beach, Lauderdale by the Sea, Lighthouse Point, Margate, Oakland Park, Parkland, Pompano Beach, Tamarac, and Wilton Manors.

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