Hollywood Praises Congress for Passing Coronavirus Relief Bill

SAG-AFTRA, DGA, the Recording Academy and others weigh in on the $2 trillion package

Last Updated: March 27, 2020 @ 11:38 AM

Organizations like SAG-AFTRA, the Directors Guild of America (DGA) and the Motion Picture Association (MPAA) responded to the House of Representatives’ decision to pass an unprecedented $2 trillion economic relief package on Friday designed to address the fallout from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

“We applaud the federal government in taking this step to care for the millions of people in our country who are in such desperate need,” the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) said in a statement.

President Donald Trump is expected to sign the package into law quickly.

Some of the main provisions include:

  • A $500 billion lending program for cities, states and businesses, with $29 billion in loans earmarked for the airline industry and $17 billion for businesses deemed critical for national security (which includes Boeing)
  • A $350 billion loan program for businesses with under 500 workers that pledge not to lay off any workers
  • An expansion of unemployment insurance that allows freelancers, gig workers and furloughed employees to receive $600 a week for four months
  • $150 billion in emergency aid for states
  • $117 billion for hospitals
  • $75 million each for the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, $50 million to the Institute of Museum and Library Services and $25 million for the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.
  • $1,200 in direct payments for individual Americans who make $75,000 or less a year

See below for the individual statements.

DGA:

“We applaud our allies in the House and the Senate for including provisions that provide access to vital lifelines, including unemployment benefits and direct cash payments, for our members and hundreds of thousands of creative workers whose unique working situations were a barrier to such critical relief. Lawmakers have heeded our urgent calls to address the needs of our members and others, everyday working men and women, who were so hard hit by the coronavirus crisis as film and television production shut down, including aid for those whose future projects were canceled. We thank Congressional leadership and the lawmakers championing the critical work of our members whose films and television programs entertain billions of people around the world. This support will keep them protected and will allow them to come out strong on the other end when they’re able to continue work again.  We urge the President to approve these protections, which will soon put much needed money in the hands of our members and their families.”

MPAA:

“The Motion Picture Association applauds Secretary Mnuchin and Congress on the passage of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The ongoing COVID-19 crisis is a threat to the entire global economy, including creative industries. In the United States alone, the film, television, and streaming industry supports 2.5 million jobs and 93,000 small businesses – 87 percent of which employ fewer than 10 people. This bill provides critical relief for independent contractors, freelancers, and small businesses who are the backbone of the entertainment industry and among those whose livelihoods are hardest hit by the current public health crisis. Industry stakeholders, including unions, guilds, and theater owners, worked tirelessly to achieve this important relief. We look forward to continuing to work with Congress and the Administration in the coming weeks and months to build on this progress. As an industry, we stand ready to assist efforts to protect the health and safety of our employees, our customers, and the public. To date, our members and industry partners have contributed to public service announcements (PSAs) and the distribution of the most current news and information on COVID-19, offered free children’s programming and educational resources for parents to support in-home learning, supplied personal protective equipment (PPE) to healthcare providers and first responders, and donated to relief efforts in local communities.”

SAG-AFTRA:

“I would like to thank members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives — including the many individual legislators who have advocated for us in Washington, D.C., this past week — for their support of this critical legislation. This emergency stimulus package contains some key elements that will apply to our members, including higher weekly unemployment benefits, extended weeks of unemployment benefits, a one-time check for every American and their children under a certain annual income, and a special Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program for those who are not eligible for unemployment currently, such as independent contractors,” said SAG-AFTRA President Gabrielle Carteris.

“I would also like to thank my fellow SAG-AFTRA members, our sister entertainment industry unions, our industry employers and our industry trade associations for reaching out to their elected officials to ask for economic inclusion. Together, we sent the clear message that the arts and media sector is a vital part of the economy that cannot be left behind when considering relief for workers affected by COVID-19.

“While there is little cause for celebration in these uncertain times, these are real gains for our members who may be suffering, and we are grateful for the added government assistance. We will continue to fight for our members through legislation and other means in every way possible,” Carteris added.

RIAA:

“We applaud Speaker Pelosi, Leader McCarthy, Senate leaders and the Administration for their hard work to pass this legislation, which includes direct financial aid to Americans in need, including musicians who face unique circumstances during this national emergency.

“We are grateful that this bill contains access to expanded unemployment insurance and small business loans, both of which will ensure that hundreds of thousands of musicians’ families across the country can continue to pay their bills, put food on the table, and care for their children during this public health and economic crisis.

“We applaud the federal government in taking this step to care for the millions of people in our country who are in such desperate need.”

Recording Academy Chair and Interim President/CEO Harvey Mason Jr.:

“The Recording Academy® thanks the Congressional leaders who worked with the music community to craft a bill that allows the music to play on. In navigating this unprecedented crisis, all music industry professionals across the U.S., many of whom rely on multiple gigs for their livelihood, can be grateful that they are included in this extraordinary effort to help Americans. We will now turn our attention to helping music makers and others who make a living in our industry navigate the process of getting the financial assistance they need while anticipating the day when they can return to providing the soundtrack to our nation, which we’ll all need when this crisis is over.”

Writers Guild of America West (WGAW): 

“As the entertainment industry grapples with the devastating impact of COVID-19 and shutdown of production worldwide, the working professionals at its heart have found champions in Congress. The Writers Guild of America West applauds our federal representatives for answering our collective pleas to allow our members access to federal emergency benefits. The CARES Act provides both direct funds and unemployment benefits for entertainment workers who, without this bill, were ineligible for most forms of relief because of the intermittent nature of our work.

The content our members write, and that our industry brings to life, is keeping the nation informed and entertained as we stay home to curb the spread of COVID-19. We urge our federal leaders to continue to support us and provide needed economic stimulus, including relief for our pension plan and additional economic support for those most in need.”

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