By Nancy I. Maanao
Congressman Michael San Nicolas, in a 30-minute non-scripted video message to the people of Guam, provided an update on several pieces of legislation pending in Congress that will end up helping tens of thousands of residents if passed.
Among the topics, Mr. San Nicolas reported breaking news of the passage of a Senate version of a second round of relief for taxpayers.
"Today, the Senate just passed their version," Mr. San Nicolas said after explaining that the House version of the HEROES Act would now be reconciled with the relief package passed by the Senate in a conference committee.
"Guam is included in both packages, but both packages have some very key differences. In the HEROES Act, the main points that are relevant to Guam are a second stimulus; carry forward of the unemployment (assistance), particularly the $600 (a week) bump on top of the $345 (a week) to go all the way to December; in the HEROES Act there's also funding for essential workers to increase their pay by as much as $10 an hour, or $10,000 a year. So If you were an essential worker; I know we have been getting a lot of questions about that, that is in the HEROES Act on the House side. There is also language in the HEROES Act for rent and mortgage assistance; there's language in there for local funding support up to $2 billion for Guam, a significant sum. This is going to go for health, education and public safety to help the government of Guam to be able to continue its operations as well. We also include a 75% reimbursement for Earned Income Tax Credit. We will get a little more into that later, because there were discussion on that in recent days. That's the HEROES Act, that's what the HEROES Act contains.
"On the Senate side they're calling their bill the "HEALS Act." They also have stimulus language and the stimulus language on the house side on HEROES and in HEALS are the same, so we are going to likely see some consensus there. Thats pretty much where the consensus ends. The Senate only wants to continue the unemployment additional amount so the $600 they want to reduce that down to $200 and they want to eventually phase it out so that the amount does not exceed 70% of someone's income from their primary job. The Senate's version does not have any funding for essential workers. the Senate's version does not have any rental assistance. The Senate's version does not have direct appropriations to local governments. It does authorize the local government to spend up to 25% of what it still has left over in its CARES Act funding and that's going to basically take from the previous monies that Guam received that was supposed to go out to the community. The government can claw out 25% back for its government operations. Thats on the Senate side. The senate side does not have any EITC reimbursement language. The Senate side does have a second round of PPP up to $100 billion for longer-term loans, particularly for those industries that are hardest hit.
"So again what we’ve talked about and what we have been educating the public on is that, when the HEROES Act passed a lot of people were saying it's dead and that's just not the way lawmaking works."