Congress has passed a $900 billion COVID-19 relief bill. President Trump is expected to sign the bill into law today. The bill contains:
$600 stimulus checks to individuals, including direct payments for mixed-status families with at least one U.S. citizen parent
An emergency rental assistance program
Increased SNAP (food stamp) benefits
Additional pandemic unemployment funds
$54 billion in emergency assistance for public schools and about $2.75 billion for nonpublic schools
Paycheck Protection Program for those entities that can demonstrate a 25% loss
Thanks to those of you who took the time to advocate with our members of Congress on the bill.
VATICAN CDF SAYS USE OF COVID VACCINE “MORALLY ACCEPTABLE”
A note released yesterday by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and approved by Pope Francis, says “It is morally acceptable to receive Covid-19 vaccines that have used cell lines from aborted fetuses in their research and production process.” The note adds that vaccinations can be used in good conscience “with the certain knowledge that the use of such vaccines does not constitute formal cooperation with the abortion” from which the cells used in production or testing of the vaccines derive.
The Iowa bishops’ statement on vaccines earlier this month explained that “people may in good conscience use the vaccines produced by Pfizer and Moderna, which made only limited use of those unethical cell lines (for lab testing of the vaccine). Morally speaking, the vaccine offered by these two companies is relatively remote from the evil of abortion, and so need not trouble anyone’s conscience to use either one.”
The bishops also said that the common good of public health “takes precedence over any reservation about being treated with vaccines; they will not be effective if people do not use them.” Here’s a link to the full statement.
UNITED WAY SURVEY SHOWS COVID IMPACTS
A survey by the United Ways of Iowa reveals that the pandemic has had a variety of impacts for Iowa households. Low-income families have suffered a disproportionate struggle to pay for basic essentials.
The three main concerns reported by respondents were a second wave of virus activity and closures, a household member contracting COVID-19 and mental health issues. Families with household incomes below $50,000 reported significantly higher concerns about paying for food, utilities and rent/mortgage.
The study highlighted the fragility of many Iowa households’ financial situations. The percentage of respondents who indicated they could not cover one month of expenses before COVID was 18%; it increased to 31% at the time of the survey. Most respondents received a federal stimulus payment and used it to cover household expenses like food, housing and utilities, but reported it was not enough to cover even one full month of expenses.
CONGRESS PASSES GLOBAL CHILD THRIVE ACT
The Global Child Thrive Act was passed as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The bill moves to the President's desk. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and Catholic Relief Services support the amendment, which would improve international programs by adding early childhood development activities into programs.
The Iowa legislative session is still set to begin on Monday, Jan. 11. We’ll be back next month with our annual preview of the upcoming legislative session.
While 2020 has brought pain and suffering to many families, the staff of the Iowa Catholic Conference wishes you a prayerful end to your Advent and a peaceful Christmas season.