By EDDIE BERNICE JOHNSON
U.S. House of Representatives
As we count down towards the end of a challenging 2020, there is another tick-tock taking place that will impact millions of Americans and thousands of Dallas County residents.
A large number of stimulus resources are set to expire Dec. 31. These federal programs will affect people in our community faced with repayment of student loan debt, housing insecurity, or have recently become unemployed attributed to the global coronavirus pandemic.
In August, President Trump issued an executive order to continue provisions of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act. This order pauses the collection of federal student loan payments and temporarily waves interest through the end of the year. Presently, student loan payments, interest accrual and debt collections would resume for millions of borrowers who may still be unemployed if Congress fails to act.
Another executive order, #13945, also provides continued support through the CARES Act. This order allows the U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development to give public housing authorities, renters and homeowners housing assistance to avoid evictions through the end of the year. If Congress fails to act, an estimated $34 billion of that back rent that they owe their landlords could be due as early as Jan. 1, 2021, for nearly 20 million Americans.
Other programs, such as extended unemployment assistance and paid family leave, would also end if Congress fails to come together on a strong successor to the coronavirus relief bills. Although we passed key legislation earlier this year to address these issues, there needs to be additional assistance to end the pain and suffering for millions of Americans who are struggling with hardships.
It is encouraging that President-elect Biden is science-focused on fighting COVID-19 on the first day of his presidency. However, North Texas and the nation cannot wait until January. I have urged Trump and his staff to work with me and the House of Representatives to enact legislation to keep our businesses and workers afloat, fund testing and contact tracing. That must occur before the end of the year. I call on the Republican-led Senate to take action now, as the House has already done, to meet that responsibility.
U.S. Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson is the ranking member of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology and the highest-ranking Texan on the House Committee on Transportation & Infrastructure. She represents the 30th Congressional District of Texas.