Coakley highlighted the essential service of people working to keep society safe, healthy, and functioning during the pandemic, singling out supermarket workers and healthcare professionals for special praise, calling them "tireless and inspiring."
The archbishop also noted the "long hours and late nights" Congress required to reach bipartisan agreement on the CARES stimulus package. At several points, congressional leadership were lock in debate about the act's provisions, especially $500 billion made available to the Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin to ensure corporate liquidity, and Democrat demands that abortion providers such as Planned Parenthood be eligible for small business relief.
The CARES Act was passed by voice vote in the House of Representatives on Friday and signed into law by President Donald Trump later that day. It had previously passed the Senate on March 25 by a margin of 96-0.
The act authorizes direct checks to individual Americans of amounts up to $1,200 and an additional $500 per child, for individuals making up to $75,000 per year, heads of household making up to $112,500, or married couples filing jointly making up to $150,000 per year.
Payments would be tapered gradually above those thresholds, and phased out completely for individuals making more than $99,000 or joint filers making more than $198,000 a year.
The legislation also allocates around $250 billion to temporarily expand unemployment insurance, and provide grants and loans to small businesses and non-profits. It creates a new unemployment assistance program for contractors and "gig" workers normally not eligible for unemployment insurance (UI) benefits, and adds an additional $600 per week in benefits for those already receiving state UI, or those part the new pandemic UI program.