News from Representative Bass

   

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Dear ,

I hope you and those close to you are staying healthy during the current health emergency. This message is to provide you an update about the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

First, I want to thank the more than 11,000 of you who joined our telephone town hall on Tuesday evening, which featured former United States Secretary of Health and Human Services Congresswoman Donna Shalala; Director of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health Dr. Barbara Ferrer; CEO of the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Hospital Dr. Elaine Batchlor; and Los Angeles City Councilman Marqueece Harris-Dawson.

Because public health guidelines advise against the in-person community meetings that we are used to, in the coming weeks, I will stay in touch by hosting more frequent telephone town halls, and with informational messages like this one.

If you didn’t receive a call from my office on Tuesday evening and would like to be added to our telephone town hall list, please click here.

A number of things have happened since the telephone town hall on Tuesday that I want to be sure you and your neighbors are aware of.

As always, you can visit my website for resources regarding this pandemic. For updates on the disease and how it is affecting our state, visit the California Department of Public Health website. The best guidance and local information should be available from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health website. 

Congressional Action

Yesterday, President Trump finally signed into law our second coronavirus relief package that the House of Representatives passed nearly a week ago. It is being referred to as “Phase 2” of our relief effort and it provides $1 billion in food aid and extends sick leave benefits to vulnerable Americans. It also includes support for unemployment benefits and provisions to cover the cost of coronavirus testing.

Just today, the House of Representatives passed legislation to help student veterans as schools close or move to online classes. It would give the Department of Veterans Affairs the authority to continue paying GI Bill payments and monthly housing allowances at existing rates. This bill and the Phase 2 legislation come after the House of Representatives passed the $8.3 billion “Phase 1” spending measure earlier this month to fund the federal government’s initial response to the coronavirus and to assist state and local governments in their response as well.

As these laws take effect, I will keep you informed on how to take advantage of their provisions. As with many federal benefits, the programs operate within a federal framework, but actual distribution is likely to happen at the state and county level. I will make sure you know where to go.

As I mentioned during our telephone town hall, we are expecting to take action on a "Phase 3" stimulus package. As that package takes shape, I will work hard to ensure that people who may be losing their income as a result of public health precautions are able to survive. I did an interview on MSNBC on Tuesday about what we expect to see and stressed that this should not be a bailout for billionaires and CEOs of large companies. This bill must help those who need it most. You can watch my interview here.

This morning, Members of Congress were alerted that the House of Representatives will not return to session until we are in a position to vote on the third piece of emergency legislation to respond to this crisis. You should know that, in light of recent reports that two Members of Congress have tested positive for COVID-19, we will be adjusting our voting schedule in order to fully comply with the guidance issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Census

This year’s census will play a huge role in the lives of the next generation of Americans. If we do not come together to mobilize and ensure a complete count, we run the risk of losing out on billions that the federal government distributes annually in the form of student loan forgiveness, EBT funding, crime victim assistance, maternal and child health services and more. It is absolutely critical that you make sure that you and everyone in your household is counted, including infants and children, and those who may not permanently live with you. For more information on who to count, visit https://2020census.gov/en/who-to-count.html

My office has received word that, beginning yesterday, 2020 Census field operations will be suspended for two weeks until April 1, 2020. The Census Bureau is taking this step to help protect the health and safety of the American public, Census Bureau employees, and everyone going through the hiring process for temporary census taker positions.

During this pause in field operations, the Census Bureau will continue to evaluate all 2020 Census operations. Should any additional adjustments need to be made, the Census Bureau will communicate these changes broadly and promptly.

The public is strongly encouraged to respond to the 2020 Census online using a desktop computer, laptop, smartphone, or tablet, and can also respond by phone or mail. Everyone should respond to the 2020 Census as soon as they receive their invitation in the mail — and when they’re finished, they can make sure their friends, families and social networks know about the importance of responding.

For more information, visit https://2020census.gov/

Travel

The State Department has just announced a Level Four travel advisory applying to all international travel, its most serious warning. The advisory would instruct all Americans abroad to either return to the United States or prepare to shelter in place, given the global threat of the coronavirus outbreak. Under the advisory, Americans would be instructed not to travel abroad.

Unemployment Benefits

The California Employment Development Department has an EDD coronavirus resource page that covers many situations. The waiting periods and some of the rules have been loosened to allow for more relief to reach workers more quickly.

You can find more information from the Employment Development Department of California about disability or paid family leave benefits along with information about unemployment insurance benefits here: https://edd.ca.gov/about_edd/coronavirus-2019/faqs.htm

Our Schools

Yesterday, Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) in partnership with the Red Cross, began providing nutritious meals to all students who need them during the temporary closure of schools. LAUSD Grab & Go Food Centers will be open until further notice starting Wednesday, March 18, and will be staffed weekdays from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. To find the closest Grab & Go Food Center, check the list on this page.

Tax Filings

In response to this outbreak, the IRS has announced changes to the 2020 tax season. Individuals who owe up to $1 million in federal income tax (or estimated federal income tax) now have a 90-day extension to pay their balance owed without late payment penalties or interest.

This extension DOES NOT apply to the filing deadline, which remains Wednesday, April 15, 2020.

If you cannot file a return by that date, you can request an extension by filing Form 4868, Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, for an automatic extension until October 15, 2020. The form is available on IRS.gov as well as additional information on filing for an extension.

Businesses with federal income tax liability of up to $10 million have an additional 90 days to make payments but the filing deadline hasn’t been extended for businesses either. The 90-day relief applies to payments of tax on self-employment income and estimated income tax payments on self-employment income.

Los Angles and Washington, DC Congressional Office Changes

Please note that in compliance with recommendations made by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for team member and constituent safety, I have directed both my L.A. and D.C. offices to begin serving constituents remotely. Please use my online pages to express your concerns and input on policy matters, or request assistance, and call my office to leave a message. Learn more here.

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Please remember to stay healthy by following guidelines put out by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. I will be posting regular updates on my website as well as on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Be well.

Sincerely,

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Karen Bass
Member of Congress
37th Congressional District of California

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