Tim Scott: CARES Act will help us as we battle COVID-19 together

Over the past few weeks, I have talked with thousands of South Carolinians who are learning to completely rework their lives in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. From parents having to simultaneously learn to work from home and watch over their kids’ educational activities, to restaurant and hotel workers laid off or furloughed, to seniors unable to even see their own families, we are all figuring this out together.

As we began learning more about COVID-19 and seeing its devastating effects in countries like Italy and Spain, I voted for the passage of the first relief bill March 5. That package contained $8.3 billion to secure medical supplies and support the efforts of federal, state and local health agencies; however, this was only the start. We soon saw this coronavirus spread across our country, with the first case appearing in South Carolina March 6, and as a result, the nation’s economy slowed to a crawl.

This is a challenge unlike any we have faced in my lifetime. Our enemy is unseen, its weaknesses unclear, and the duration of the fight unknown. As a man of faith, I have indeed spent much time this month in prayer and quiet contemplation. But I also have spent countless hours in the Capitol, working to bring tangible, commonsense solutions that offer quick yet sustainable relief to the people of South Carolina and beyond.

To that end, the CARES Act that was passed Wednesday by the U.S. Senate, though imperfect, will help stem the relentless tide crashing on our nation’s amazing health care workers while providing immediate, efficient relief to small businesses, those who have lost their jobs because of the pandemic and our economy as a whole.

South Carolinians facing unexpected and urgent financial insecurity will see recovery checks of up to $1,200 for those making less than $75,000 a year, or $150,000 for joint filers. For workers who have already lost their job, the CARES Act expands unemployment insurance to include those traditionally barred from applying, such as those who are self-employed, working as independent contractors or unable to show a sufficient work history. These provisions will provide immediate help to waiters whose restaurant has closed, or the cashier at a clothing store that has temporarily closed, and help ensure 100 percent of their salary is covered for the next four months.