Dear Ms. Price;
Thank you for contacting me regarding the health and economic impacts of COVID-19 on our country. I appreciate your taking the time to share your concerns, as hearing from you helps me better represent Kentucky in the United States Senate.
The spread of COVID-19, the highly infectious disease commonly known as the “novel coronavirus,” has resulted in a global pandemic and, for a period, shut down our economy. It is not only a public health crisis, but an economic crisis, as well.
Congress has an important responsibility to steer Americans through this tumultuous time by passing legislation that provides federal relief to businesses, workers, families, and individuals across the country. Congress has addressed this crisis, so far, through three phases: the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act (P.L. 116-123), the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (P.L. 116-127), and the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act (P.L. 116-136).
The first phase of legislation provided over $7 billion to bolster state response efforts, including $9 million to Kentucky that was delivered to the state public health department and community health centers across the Commonwealth. The second phase of legislation established an emergency paid leave program, increased nutrition assistance and unemployment benefits, and required private insurance, Medicare, and Medicaid to provide coverage without cost-sharing for COVID-19 testing and related services. The CARES Act, which I introduced and led through the Senate, addressed four key goals: direct financial payments to Americans, rapid relief for small businesses and their employees, significant steps to stabilize our economy and protect jobs, and further resources for frontline health care workers. This included $350 billion in federally guaranteed loans through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) to provide urgent help to small businesses to keep workers employed during this pandemic. I was proud that the CARES Act passed the Senate by a vote of 96-0 and was signed into law on March 27, 2020. The bold legislation I introduced became the largest economic rescue package in American history, and it is already having a $12 billion impact in Kentucky.
I also led through the Senate and to enactment on April 24, 2020 the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act (P.L. 116-139), to replenish the funding for many popular relief programs created under the CARES Act. More than 50,000 loans totaling over $5.2 billion has been delivered to small businesses and their workers in Kentucky, over $1.1 billion has been distributed to Kentucky health care providers, and over $120 million was provided for testing in the Commonwealth.
In July, I introduced an additional relief package, the Health, Economic Assistance, Liability protection, and Schools (HEALS) Act. The HEALS Act focuses on getting people back to work, supporting education for our children, and winning the healthcare fight against the virus. This legislation provides assistance for both education and child care providers to help America’s kids safely return to school. It also protects doctors, nurses, local governments, school districts, and universities, among others, from a second epidemic of frivolous lawsuits. Additionally, the HEALS Act provides more flexibility on PPP and a second round of loans, as well as extends supplemental unemployment insurance. This legislation also expands the funding needed for future treatments and vaccines development, while providing further relief for the health care heroes fighting the virus on the front line.
Unfortunately, our Democratic colleagues are holding out on these much needed relief efforts in hopes of passing a non-COVID related, radical wish list including tax breaks for rich people in New York and California. While working families are crippled by the unknown of what next week will bring and are aching for direct relief, Democrats are preventing Americans from receiving a second round of direct payments provided by the HEALS Act so they can try to pass a bill that requires research studies in the marijuana industry. I can assure you, I will not allow this national pandemic to be hijacked for political gain. As we continue our work to navigate this pandemic, I will be sure to keep your thoughts in mind, and I will continue working to enact legislation that will help America make it through this challenge.
Again, thank you for contacting me to share your thoughts. To learn how to protect youand your family from COVID-19, you may visit: https://www.coronavirus.gov/. If you would like to receive periodic updates from my office, please sign up for my eNewsletter at http://mcconnell.senate.gov, become a fan of my page on Facebook by visiting http://www.facebook.com/mitchmcconnell or follow my office on Twitter @McConnellPress.
UNITED STATES SENATOR