Iowa Catholic Conference Newsletter: Congress passes relief package

Many parishes are offering Masses and other spiritual resources online. Click here for a link to the diocesan web pages on the COVID-19 situation.

Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a new proclamation on Thursday suspending elective and nonessential medical procedures (including abortions) and extending retail business closures to clothing stores, bookstores and others until April 7. Click here for the full text of the proclamation. The state of Iowa’s website with more information is at coronavirus.iowa.gov.

EMERGENCY LEGISLATION ON CORONAVIRUS RELIEF ENACTED

The chair of the U.S. Catholic bishops’ domestic justice committee praised Congress and the president for passing and signing the CARES Act, a package of emergency relief for those suffering from the effects of the COVID-19 crisis. Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City expressed gratitude for the enormous aid in the bill and noted issues that merit further assistance in the future.

The archbishop added, “… Members of Congress and the President are to be commended for working together through long hours and late nights to reach a bipartisan agreement that provides emergency relief to millions of Americans who are suffering.

“Nothing is perfect, and there is already discussion of a future round of legislation that will be needed as the crisis continues. There are some areas where aid and relief can improve ... It was disappointing that certain aid and relief was not extended to the undocumented, and extremely concerning that testing and access to health care coverage was denied to certain immigrants. The health and wellbeing of all in this crisis is threatened if anyone is categorically excluded from getting help.”

The CARES law includes:

  • Small business loans to help keep people on payroll

  • Unemployment benefits for many who did not qualify before

  • Cash assistance to everyone with a work-eligible SSN and an adjusted gross income under $75,000 ($150,000 if married) who is not a dependent; plus $500 for each child. The assistance phases out totally at $99,000 for individuals and $198,000 for joint filers without children.

  • Stabilization funding for public and nonpublic schools

  • FEMA disaster assistance

  • Additional funding to states, hospitals and charitable groups

  • Additional funding for SNAP (food stamps) and homeless assistance

  • As a general rule, the CARES Act leaves in place ineligibility for undocumented immigrants

HELP FOR THOSE WHO ARE LAID OFF

According to Iowa Workforce Development (IWD), while the CARES Act has been signed into law, those benefits are not yet available and the department is awaiting guidance from the U.S. Department of Labor. However, IWD is now accepting applications for the CARES Act benefits. Click here for more information. For those who were previously eligible and have already applied, IWD recommends you continue to file your weekly claim.

WORDS OF HOPE

Pope Francis offered a profound message of hope during his special “Urbi et Orbi” blessing for the world on Friday. He noted the words of Jesus to his disciples in the storm-tossed boat: “Why are you afraid? Have you no faith?”

“Faith begins when we realize we are in need of salvation,” Pope Francis said. “We are not self-sufficient; by ourselves we founder: we need the Lord, like ancient navigators needed the stars. Let us invite Jesus into the boats of our lives. Let us hand over our fears to him so that he can conquer them. Like the disciples, we will experience that with him on board there will be no shipwreck.”

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