Passing Legislation to Help America Recover
In the last few weeks, my office has been flooded with calls from small business owners desperate for assistance but stymied by the slow response, unfair treatment, and limited funds of the small business programs set up by the CARES Act. I supported this legislation because it is absolutely imperative that we recapitalize PPP and EIDL as quickly as possible to get small businesses the resources they need. I am also pleased this bill provides significant funding for hospitals and expanded testing, without which we cannot safely re-open the small businesses and other establishments we are trying to save. I am, however, all too aware that even this substantial infusion of money will not be enough to meet demand, and not all of the various problems my constituents have raised with PPP and EIDL are addressed by this legislation.
We must fix these issues going forward.
I am also disappointed that, despite the best efforts of my Democratic colleagues, this bill does not give state and local governments the funding and flexibility they desperately need to support their fights against COVID-19 and fill the massive revenue gaps they are facing. Governor Cuomo is right to point out that New York State faces a $10 billion loss of tax revenue. While we are the epicenter of the pandemic, we’re not alone in our budget shortfalls. Oklahoma faces a $415 million gap, Arizona is looking at a $1.1 billion deficit, and Maryland could face a $2.2 billion shortfall. My Republican colleagues must come to the table and support additional resources for states and cities and give states additional flexibility in how they use the funds, including replacing lost revenue.
Even with these shortcomings, it was imperative that Congress pass this legislation and get funding moving to small businesses as quickly as possible. Simply put - there is so much more we need to do. Transit systems like MTA need billions in resources to stay afloat. Cultural nonprofits like museums and theaters need funding and flexibility to re-open their doors when this pandemic passes. Renters desperately need emergency assistance to stay in their homes even with the eviction moratorium. The U.S. Postal Service is on the brink of collapse. Families need food assistance to keep their kids healthy. Hospitals and providers desperately need PPE. Our work is not done, and we cannot stop here.
I appreciate the efforts to get this interim bill done as quickly as possible, and I look forward to continuing our efforts to stop this pandemic, keep our country safe, and, when public health experts agree, thoughtfully and carefully re-open our economy.
Summary of Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act
The Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act contains critical funding for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) created in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), as well as funding for small business disaster loans, hospitals, and COVID-19 testing. After Senate Republicans proposed only $250 billion for PPP and no additional funding, Democrats fought hard to secure even more new PPP funding, provisions that will improve PPP, as well as funding for small business disaster loans, hospitals, and COVID-19 testing.
The legislation includes:
·$310 billion in additional lending authority for PPP, with $60 billion set aside for small lenders like credit unions and community development corporations to ensure PPP is working to support the small businesses that need this funding the most as Congress intended
·$60 billion for separate disaster loans to small businesses under the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Program, including $10 billion to expand EIDL eligibility to cover cooperatives, employee stock ownership plans, and tribal businesses with 500 or fewer employees, as well as sole proprietors and independent contractors
·$75 billion in additional funding for hospitals and other providers to cover COVID-19 related expenses and lost revenue
·$25 billion in new funding for manufacturing and distributing COVID-19 tests, procuring supplies and equipment to administer the tests, and surveillance and contact tracing.
o Funding is broken up over several pools of money, including $11 billion for states, localities, territories, and tribes, $825 million for community health centers, $4 billion for federal agencies like NIH and FDA researching testing. It provides $1 billion to cover testing for uninsured individuals.
o Democrats fought to require two new reports from the administration: a monthly report to Congress on testing, diagnoses, hospitalizations, and deaths that break out data with demographic characteristics and a strategic testing plan explaining how it will increase domestic testing capacity and address disparities
·$6 million for the Department of Health and Human Services’ Inspector General to expand oversight of health care funding contained in the COVID-19 stimulus packages.
Going forward, I am continuing to work on the priorities for small businesses, families, and workers in New York. My top priorities for the next round of stimulus will be:
·Making technical improvements to PPP to address concerns for New Yorkers, including increasing the share of non-personnel costs like commercial rent eligible for loans, allowing more nonprofits to apply, and improving the process so banks treat all businesses equally
·Providing more support for New York workers, including rental assistance, expanded funding for SNAP, and improving unemployment insurance
·Funding vital government services at risk of collapse due to COVID-19, including the MTA and the U.S. Postal Service
Providing state and local governments a major increase in emergency funding and flexibility to use that funding as needed, including for lost revenue replacement
·Maintaining strong oversight of how these massive stimulus funds are being spent, especially for major corporations getting bailouts
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