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U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor announces toolkit to navigate CARES Act

Posted at 5:05 PM, Mar 31, 2020

TAMPA, Fl.-- Lawmakers are working to make information about government financial relief during the Coronavirus crisis easier to digest.

Last week, the federal government passed the CARES Act. The third relief package from Congress provides direct payments to many Americans, help for small businesses, investments in healthcare systems and expanded unemployment insurance.

Tuesday. U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor held a press conference to announce the roll out of a toolkit on COVID19, recognizing many people will have questions about how it will work. She said the guide, through Speaker Nancy Pelosi, is now linked on her website.

"It’s just a great resource document for folks who have questions about how that emergency aid is going to arrive," Rep. Castor said, calling the aid a lifeline for neighbors.

It includes information about food assistance, paid leave, small business loans and grants and direct payments.

"Depending on how long this public health emergency lasts we may have to come back in a subsequent emergency aid package and make another payment my colleagues are already discussing what will come next," Castor said.

On unemployment insurance, Castor said the state is critical in making sure the website works for Floridians to apply for assistance.

"Here’s what I don’t want to happen. That Floridians are put at a distinct disadvantage compared to other Americans because we over time we’ve been stingier with unemployment compensation system and right now that’s the way it’s set up. Fewer weeks and lower payments. So they and then infrastructure that is not user friendly so they need to do much better otherwise Florida families will not be receiving the aid they really need to get through this," she said.

Castor said they have been in touch with the governor's office and the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.

"They are hiring folks. They, you know, time is of the essence here and I think people will understand this is an emergency situation and they deserve a little bit of time to get things up and running, but this is urgent and it’s all hands on deck and we’re going to continue to press the governor to get as much aid in the hands of folks," Rep. Castor said.

“We’re going to do the unemployment system for sure. We want to be able to get that out. This bill that just passed we’re scrutinizing that and obviously want to be able to assist in anything that’s flowing there," Governor Ron DeSantis said during a news conference Tuesday.

He spoke about unemployment in general. He said he's spoke with the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity about hiring s many people to help process claims.

“I think it’s a huge huge problem we’re gonna work as fast as we can on it but it is not going to be something that’s gonna happen where we’re gonna be able to field and process these things overnight, just simply because of the magnitude of it. It is orders and magnitudes above what the financial crisis did.”