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Lawmakers such as Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) have called for a national moratorium on rent and mortgage payments.
Van Hollen, a member of the Senate Banking Committee, revealed that the creation of a “rental assistance fund” would be included in the fourth economic relief bill titled CARES Act II.
“Even as we’re successful in getting income into people’s hands during this emergency period and preventing evictions and foreclosures, we still need to make sure, when that’s all over, obviously the back rent could be substantial if it remains unpaid, and therefore we’re going to need a rental assistance fund,” Van Hollen said on a conference call.
Van Hollen called on Republicans to support creating the fund in the next COVID-19 bill.
“I think some of our Republican colleagues see the government response being just to the immediate emergency rather than, sort of, the longterm crisis that we have in the country like affordable housing,” he said. “That’s going to be a big question — whether this actually helps unite people going forward.”
Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Van Hollen recently went to the Senate floor to block a so-called “clean” funding attempt for the depleted Paycheck Protection Program in the $2.2 trillion CARES Act. Democrats had argued that additional funding in other areas such as state and local assistance as well as hospitals should also be included with the new PPP funding.
Van Hollen said congressional leaders are discussing voting on a “coronavirus package 3.5” that would include the $250 billion in added PPP funding as well as more federal money for hospitals.
“In the emergency response, we saw a good bipartisan coalition, and I think that will last us through getting the [package] 3.5 passed,” Van Hollen said. “Round four will have to include more assistance to state and local governments.”
It’s unclear whether congressional Republicans will support the additional funding.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi previously said major infrastructure upgrades as well as utility bill payment assistance should be included in a fourth coronavirus relief package, but Van Hollen said that might not happen.
“We should modernize our infrastructure, but I don’t know at this point to what extent we’re going to have the same bipartisan support as we get beyond the response to the acute parts of this immediate emergency,” he said.
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