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Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Langevin supports House Passage of $484 Billion Interim Coronavirus Relief Package

Far from perfect but a step forward

By Ann Telnaes, Washington Post
Congressman Jim Langevin (D-RI) voted in support of the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act, a $484 billion interim coronavirus relief package that supports public health and the nation’s economy by providing critical aid for healthcare providers and small businesses and by funding a nationwide coronavirus testing strategy.

Earlier in the day, Langevin spoke on the House floor in support of the legislation. The relief package passed the House by a vote of 388-5 and now heads to the President’s desk for his signature. 

“Millions of families, small business owners, and healthcare workers are in dire need of help as our nation grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic. Congress is answering their calls with an additional relief package that seeks to ensure public health and bolster the nation’s economy with targeted support for mom-and-pop shops, restaurants, and hospitals and medical personnel on the front lines. 

The Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act also makes a massive investment in testing, which will be critical as communities contemplate how to begin the process of reopening.

“Congress’s action today is particularly important for Rhode Island. Our state is experiencing surging unemployment numbers, and many of our small businesses and healthcare institutions are facing hardship and uncertainty. This ‘Phase 3.5 package’ rightfully replenishes the Small Business Administration’s depleted Paycheck Protection Program that we created last month as part of the CARES Act, but quickly ran out of money due to overwhelming demand. It also authorizes additional funds for the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program, which provides loans for small businesses to cover costs not included in PPP. These are important lifelines for our local markets, boutiques, and eateries, which make significant contributions to our economy and knit together the fabric of our communities.

“The health and wellbeing of families is my utmost priority. While Rhode Island continues to be a leader in testing nationally, we know that risk remains, and we cannot let up. More testing is necessary across the board and will allow us to better understand this threat, serve those who have fallen ill, and ultimately save lives. Thanks to the work of House Democrats, the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act will finally ensure we have a national strategy for testing and fund it appropriately.

“I’m pleased that ‘Phase 3.5’ builds on our previous relief legislation, but additional support will be needed to help communities across the U.S. weather one of the most challenging times in our nation’s history. With cities and states facing revenue shortfalls sparked by necessary social distancing and emergency restrictions, aid for them must be strongly considered as we move forward. I look forward to continuing to work collaboratively with my colleagues Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse, and Congressman Cicilline to ensure Rhode Island gets the help it deserves.”

The “Phase 3.5” coronavirus relief package, includes:
  • $310 billion in additional funding for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), with $60 billion allocated for small to mid-size community-based lenders, banks and credit unions
  • $50 billion for Small Business Administration (SBA) disaster lending, and $10 billion for disaster grants, which will be accessible to the nation’s farmers 
  • $75 billion for healthcare providers to help get critical resources like personal protective equipment (PPE) to frontline workers
  • $25 billion to help with a national testing strategy that will increase the nation’s testing capacity