By: Rep. Ben Cline
I was blessed by another great week traveling throughout the Sixth District listening to area residents and participating in community events. I appreciated the opportunity to discuss three bipartisan reform bills I introduced with both constituents and local media. And finally, Senate leaders have proposed an additional COVID-19 relief package that I am hopeful can jump-start talks on a bipartisan bill that can eventually gain the support of both parties.
The sacred trust that exists between elected officials and those they serve has resulted in the greatest representative government in history. However, over time, laws must be modernized to adapt to the changing landscape. That’s why Congressman Dean Phillips (D-MN-03) and I teamed up – two members from opposite parties, representing different states, and coming from dissimilar professional backgrounds – to introduce three purely nonpartisan reform bills this month that will help make certain that the federal government is actually working for the people. Our bills strive to bring greater transparency to the lobbying industry through the Lobbying Disclosure Reform Act, work to ensure the American people have time to read legislation before their representatives vote on it though the 48-Hour Bill Review Resolution, and promote better governance and oversight regarding federal technology practices to save taxpayers potentially billions of dollars through the SMART Government Act.
In August, the President signed an Executive Order that made available up to $44 billion from FEMA’s Disaster Relief Fund to provide financial assistance to Americans who have lost wages due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This week, Virginia agreed to administer the lost wages program, which means the Commonwealth will be awarded $378,748,485 in federal aid from FEMA. This is welcome news for Virginia residents because FEMA’s grant will allow the state to provide those unemployed due to coronavirus $300 per week on top of their regular unemployment benefit.
Legislatively there has been no movement on negotiations surrounding an additional large-scale coronavirus relief package. However, this week, Senate Republicans proposed an alternative bill aimed at providing rapid relief to those in need. The bill, the Delivering Immediate Relief to America’s Families, Schools and Small Businesses Act, contains provisions that both parties have expressed a willingness to support in the past like liability protections to businesses, schools, and hospitals. Further, it will extend the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) through December 27 at a rate of $300 per week. Additionally, the bill will extend and enhance the Paycheck Protection Program, which in turn will continue supporting millions of American jobs and small businesses. The legislation also would allocate more than $29 billion to support our medical community in both developing therapies and vaccines and ensuring our frontline workers have the resources they need. And finally, the Senate bill would appropriate $105 billion for the Education Stabilization Fund to make certain that schools have the tools needed to reopen safely and keep students healthy.
Paycheck Protection Program Update:
The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) has had an impact on America’s business community and has served as a lifeline throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. As you may know, this program, which was established through the CARES Act, offers small businesses forgivable loans to help keep their doors open and employees on payroll during this crisis. To date, this program has allocated more than $530 billion to over 5.2 million small business across the country. Right here in the Sixth District alone, the program has provided $612 million to 7,789 businesses within our community, which is currently helping support nearly 70,000 jobs.
Thank you for the opportunity to serve as your congressman. If my office can ever be of assistance, please contact my Washington office at (202) 225-5431. For the latest updates from Washington and across the Sixth District, follow my Facebook and Twitter pages.