As the coronavirus pandemic continues, I’m speaking with people across NW Oregon who are understandably worried about their future. Many families and individuals were already struggling to pay for necessities like rent and food before the coronavirus upended our economy, and they need support now more than ever.

I’ve been fighting in Congress for resources to help our community during this challenging time, and want to provide some guidance on how to access federal aid for the topics people are asking about the most: unemployment insurance, direct payments, small businesses, and student loans.

You can find a more complete guide to federal resources on my website here. I know that families, individuals, and small businesses need more help, and I will keep advocating for them and update this web page as additional assistance becomes available.

Unemployment Insurance

In Oregon, most workers who lose their jobs through no fault of their own can receive unemployment insurance benefits, including individuals who are unable to work because of coronavirus, illness, quarantine, or child care needs. The Oregon Employment Department encourages everyone who can to file online here: You can also call 1-877-FILE-4-UI. If you have any problems or need further assistance, please contact my office at 503-469-6010.

Unemployment benefits are a vital lifeline for many during this pandemic, and I’m working in Congress to strengthen and improve access for more workers. The House recently passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which provides an additional 13 weeks of benefits, for a total of 39 weeks, of federally funded unemployment benefits for individuals. Importantly, the bill also makes unemployment benefits available to part-time, self-employed, and gig economy workers. The exact amount of unemployment compensation you can receive will depend on your work history and previous earnings, but from now through July 31, 2020, the CARES Act provides that an additional $600 will be in every weekly unemployment compensation check. The CARES Act also included substantial funding to states to make sure employment offices can quickly disburse these earned benefits.

Direct Payments

People need immediate assistance, which is why I have advocated for direct cash payments. The CARES Act provides direct payments to individuals and families. Individuals making up to $75,000 ($150,000 for married workers) will receive $1,200 with an additional $500 per minor child. The payments decrease and then stop for workers making more than $99,000 ($198,000 for married workers). The IRS will issue these payments via direct deposit or check based on 2019 or 2018 tax returns or 2019 Social Security statements. No action is required for most people. If you have not filed a tax return in the last two years, please review this Q&A from the IRS and contact my office at 503-469-6010 with any questions. I will provide any updated information on my website here:

Small Businesses

Since this pandemic started, I have spoken with many business owners who are worried about how they will be able to stay afloat and support their employees. My first job was in my mom’s small business, and I know many of us are worried about the local shops and their employees who are part of our families and community. I have fought for forgivable loans and grants to provide desperately needed support. 

  • Congress secured $350 billion in forgivable loans and $10 billion in grants to small businesses, tribal business concerns, and certain nonprofits.
  • Loans through a new Small Business Association (SBA) 7(a) Paycheck Protection Program can be forgiven when used for payroll costs (including paid leave, health care, and other costs) to retain workers, and other expenses such as rent, mortgage interest, and utilities. Independent contractors, sole-proprietors, and other self-employed persons are eligible for these loans.
  • Small businesses can also apply for up to $10,000 in grants to retain workers and pay for debt obligations.
  • Small businesses and 501(c)(3) nonprofits should contact their lender and the Small Business Administration office directly. Click here to visit the Portland District Office website.

Student Loans

Student loans can be a significant burden for many families and individuals. Last week the CARES Act was signed into law, providing a six-month pause on payments and interest accrual of most federal student loans, and suspension of involuntary collections of federally-held student loans. If you have student loan debt, several options are outlined below for borrowers to help provide relief through September 30, 2020. During this period, a borrower will be able to:

  • Pause payments for federal student loan borrowers who have Direct Loans and Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL), which means these borrowers will not be required to make any payments toward outstanding interest or principal balance.
  • Suspend interest accrual for such loans so that these balances don’t accrue.
  • Avoid forced collections such as garnishment of wages, tax refunds, & Social Security benefits.
  • Halt negative credit reporting.
  • Make sure a borrower continues to receive credit toward Public Service Loan Forgiveness, Income-Driven Repayment forgiveness, and loan rehabilitation.

For additional guidance on how to apply and learn about next steps as this critical relief becomes available, please refer to the U.S. Department of Education website.

I’m committed to fighting for the resources our community needs to find security in the wake of COVID-19. Please continue reaching out to my office if there is anything I can do to help meet your needs.



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