WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Senate unanimously passed bipartisan legislation that was cosponsored by U.S. Senator Tim Kaine and introduced by Senator Tammy Duckworth to help entrepreneurs grow their small businesses and expand economic opportunity. The Veterans Small Business Enhancement Act, which now heads to the U.S. House of Representatives, would allow veteran small business owners to acquire equipment and property that the federal government no longer has a use for by adding veterans to the list of eligible recipients for federal surplus personal property, which already includes women and minority small business owners as well as Veterans Service Organizations.
“When the men and women who have tirelessly served our nation come home and begin new careers in their communities, we owe them our support,” Kaine said. “That’s why one of my top priorities in the Senate has been easing servicemembers’ transition from active duty to the civilian workforce. I’m excited that this commonsense legislation brings us closer to that goal by helping veterans who own small businesses thrive and in turn strengthen their communities.”
Kaine has focused in the Senate on supporting veterans, servicemembers, and their families. He’s been a leader on efforts to reduce unemployment for veterans and military spouses and ensure those who serve our nation receive the health care and benefits they were promised. The first bill Kaine introduced in the Senate – the Troop Talent Act of 2013 – was a bill to ease the transition for servicemembers into the civilian workforce. This year, Kaine introduced two bills — the Military Spouse Employment Act of 2018 and the Jobs and Childcare for Military Families Act of 2018 — to reduce military spouse unemployment and support military families. Key provisions of these two military spouse bills were signed into law as part of the Fiscal Year 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).
The General Services Administration (GSA) has overseen distribution of federal surplus personal property for 15 years in partnership with the Small Business Administration (SBA) and State Agencies for Surplus Property (SASP) through the Federal Surplus Property Donation Program. When there is no federal need for excess property, SASPs disburse the property to eligible recipients who otherwise may have been unable to acquire it. This legislation is supported by the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), the National Association of State Agencies for Surplus Property (NASASP), and the American Legion.
American Legion National Commander Brett P. Reistad has previously said: “The American Legion supports legislation that would give veteran-owned small businesses access to surplus federal property. Unclaimed surplus property costs the federal government millions of dollars to dispose of or maintain every year. This same surplus property may help small businesses offset the overhead expenses associated with opening a storefront or office, which benefits the United States.”
There are more than 2.5 million veteran-owned small businesses across the country, including approximately 76,000 in Virginia. As more Iraq and Afghanistan-era veterans transition out of the military and begin their next career, this number will only increase.
Important updates from Congressman Ben Cline – April 3, 2020
Since last week’s passage of H.R. 748, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, federal agencies have issued guidelines for how this bill will be implemented. This important bill will utilize new resources to fight on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic in America and will inject funding into the economy to help American workers, families, small businesses, and industries so that our country can not only survive this crisis but thrive when we do.
Day by day, more details continue to be made available about both the Paycheck Protection Program for small businesses and the Economic Impact Payments available to individuals, which are provisions of the CARES Act designed to provide key relief to the American people in the wake of the spread of the coronavirus. For an overview of action the U.S. Department of the Treasury has taken since the bill’s passage, please visit treasury.gov/cares.
The Supply Chain Stabilization Task Force, which is being run by FEMA and focused on meeting the demand for critical medical resources and supplies, published a fact sheet detailing its four-pronged approach to address issues related to critical protective and life-saving equipment: Preservation, Acceleration, Expansion, and Allocation.
To learn more about the Economic Impact Payments available to individuals through the CARES Act, please visit irs.gov. There, you will find information about who is eligible to receive payments and whether you need to take any action in order to receive the payments, among other helpful information. The IRS has said it will begin distributing the checks in the next three weeks.
For business owners struggling to keep their doors open and their employees’ taken care of during this difficult time, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has two loan programs. First, the recently passed CARES Act created the Paycheck Protection Program, an initiative that provides 100% federally guaranteed loans to help small businesses through the COVID-19 crisis.
Secondly, the SBA has now approved Virginia for its Economic Injury Disaster Program. The SBA will work directly with state governors to provide targeted, low-interest loans to small businesses and non-profits that have been severely impacted. Please visit sba.gov/coronavirus for more information on the two loan programs.
This week, the President announced that the CDC’s nationwide guidance to slow the spread of the virus, which was published 15 days ago, will be extended until at least April 30th. As Dr. Fauci said, “The reason why we feel so strongly about the necessity of the additional 30 days is that now is the time, whenever you’re having an effect, not to take your foot off the accelerator.”
Additionally, during one of this week’s briefings, Dr. Fauci said that vaccine trials are, “right on target for the year to year and a half.” On the subject of treating the virus, Dr. Birx announced that a coronavirus antibody test could be available within this month. Such a test could help identify those who have had the virus and recovered.
As of March 30, the U.S. Navy’s gigantic floating hospital ship, the USNS Comfort, arrived in New York City where it has been sent to help relieve the pressure on the city’s hospitals that are overwhelmed with coronavirus patients. The Comfort’s 1,000 beds and 12 operating rooms will largely be used for non-coronavirus patients, freeing up much-needed space at the city’s overtaxed hospitals. Likewise, the USNS Mercy sits on the shores of Los Angeles.
Rest assured, I will continue to keep you informed, monitor the situation in Virginia and around the country, and work with my colleagues to ensure the full, coordinated force of the federal government is behind our efforts to stop the spread of this disease. Please visit cline.house.gov/covid-19 for additional resources.
If you experience symptoms or have been exposed to someone recently diagnosed with COVID-19, contact your doctor immediately to determine if you need screening.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Resources:
Follow @CDCgov on Twitter
Resources for Business:
Important updates from Congressman Ben Cline – March 28, 2020
Our Nation is facing a historic crisis. In the last month, COVID-19 has infected over 85,000 Americans, more than any other nation on Earth. Over 1200 of our fellow Americans have perished, and we are making every effort to stop the virus from taking from us thousands more of our neighbors, our friends, and our family members. The first Virginian was infected only three weeks ago, and since then we have seen life as we know it across our Commonwealth come to a screeching halt.
The crisis created by this virus is twofold. It is first and foremost a health crisis, made worse by the stealth with which the virus spreads. Often those infected feel no symptoms and unsuspectingly pass the virus on to weaker and more vulnerable targets. And it takes advantage of the very characteristics that make us a great Nation, preying on our love of freedom, our love of social interaction, and our love of community. As the government has sought to eliminate the virus, it has urged practices that contradict many of these characteristics that make America great. Who would’ve thought that in America we would be advised not to gather in groups, eat out at a restaurant, or attend a graduation program, music concert, or church service?
The second crisis created by COVID-19 is economic, and the combination of the virus itself and the actions taken to fight the virus has brought our economy to its knees. As lock-downs are announced and bans on gatherings of more than 10 people enforced, the impact of our economy has been pronounced. The stock market has lost a third of its value, main streets across America are empty, and sporting events and other celebrations have been canceled. Just this week, it was announced that over 3 million people filed for unemployment last week, shattering the old record of 665,000 in March 2009. We cannot lose sight of the need to beat the virus on both the health front and the economic front.
Fortunately, Congress acted this week to address both the health crisis and the economic crisis surrounding COVID-19 bypassing the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which provides resources to hospitals and health care workers while supporting American workers and small businesses through this challenging time. While I did not agree with all of the provisions, I was pleased that the Senate rejected Speaker Pelosi’s progressive wish list and was proud to vote in favor of this legislation. It provides much-needed assistance to Sixth District residents and businesses and gives our hospitals and health care providers the best fighting chance to contain COVID-19 and rid it from our Nation.
On Tuesday, I hosted a special telephone town hall focusing on the coronavirus. I was joined by Dr. Laura Kornegay, Health Director of Central Shenandoah Health District, and Delegate Chris Head, who sits on the Health, Welfare and Institutions Committee in the Virginia General Assembly. To listen to the audio recording, please click here.
In the Commonwealth of Virginia, Governor Northam has issued an executive order to reduce the spread of COVID-19. He has discouraged all gatherings of more than 10 people statewide. This does not include gatherings for purposes of providing healthcare or medical services, access to essential services for low-income Virginians, law enforcement operations, or government operations.
Recreation and Entertainment Businesses:
As of March 24, the following business is considered non-essential and must close to the public:
• Theaters, performing arts centers, concert venues, museums, and other indoor entertainment centers;
• Fitness centers, gymnasiums, recreation centers, indoor sports facilities, indoor exercise facilities;
• Beauty salons, barbershops, spas, massage parlors, tanning salons, tattoo shops, and any other location where personal care or personal grooming services are performed that would not allow compliance with social distancing guidelines to remain six feet apart;
• Racetracks and historic horse racing facilities;
• Bowling alleys, skating rinks, arcades, amusement parks, trampoline parks, fairs, arts and craft facilities, aquariums, zoos, escape rooms, indoor shooting ranges, public and private social clubs, and all other places of indoor public amusement.
Restaurants & Bars:
The following establishments must be closed to the public but may continue to offer delivery and/or takeout services:
• Dining establishments;
• Food courts;
• Farmers markets;
• Wineries; and
• Tasting rooms.
The Governor has issued specific guidance for retail businesses. The following retail businesses are considered essential and may remain open during normal business hours:
• Grocery stores, pharmacies, and other retailers that sell food and beverage products or pharmacy products, including dollar stores, and department stores with grocery or pharmacy operations;
• Medical, laboratory, and vision supply retailers;
• Electronic retailers that sell or service cell phones, computers, tablets, and other communications technology;
• Automotive parts, accessories, and tire retailers as well as automotive repair facilities;
• Home improvement, hardware, building material, and building supply retailers;
• Lawn and garden equipment retailers;
• Beer, wine, and liquor stores;
• Retail functions of gas stations and convenience stores;
• Retail located within healthcare facilities;
• Banks and other financial institutions with retail functions;
• Pet stores and feed stores;
• Printing and office supply stores; and
• Laundromats and dry cleaners.
All essential retail establishments must, to the extent possible, adhere to social distancing recommendations, enhanced sanitizing practices on common surfaces, and other appropriate workplace guidance from state and federal authorities.
The Governor has also closed all public schools through the end of the academic year. The Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) will issue guidance to help divisions execute plans to continue instruction, while ensuring students are served equitably, regardless of income level, access to technology, English learner status, or special needs. This includes options for additional instruction through summer programming, integrating instruction into coursework next year, and allowing students to make up the content. VDOE will submit a waiver to the federal government to lift end-of-year testing requirements and is exploring options to waive state-mandated tests.
Students who are in need of meals can still access them. To learn more about meals, text “FOOD” or “COMIDA” to 877877.
Guidance for Small Business Owners:
Small business owners who are struggling amidst this crisis should look into the Small Business Administration Loan Program. Applicants may apply online, receive additional disaster assistance information and download applications at sba.gov. Applicants may also call SBA’s Customer Service Center at (800) 659-2955 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on SBA disaster assistance. Individuals who are deaf or hard-of-hearing may call (800) 877-8339. Completed applications should be mailed to U.S. Small Business Administration, Processing and Disbursement Center, 14925 Kingsport Road, Fort Worth, TX 76155.
At cline.house.gov, you can access further information about the coronavirus pandemic, including administrative, congressional, and state action that has been taken to curb the spread of the virus, resources for businesses, and information from the CDC on how to keep you and your families healthy. While Congress works on legislation and the CDC works toward vaccines and cures, there are several steps you can take to protect yourself and others from infection:
• Practice social distancing, and avoid close contact with other people.
• Stay home if you are sick.
• Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
• Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
• Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
As U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams said, “Caution is appropriate, preparedness is appropriate, panic is not.” Rest assured, I will continue to keep you informed, monitor the situation in Virginia and around the country, and work with my colleagues to ensure the full, coordinated force of the federal government is behind our efforts to stop the spread of this disease.
If you experience symptoms or have been exposed to someone recently diagnosed with COVID-19, contact your doctor immediately to determine if you need screening.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Resources:
Follow @CDCgov on Twitter
Resources for Business:
Congressman Ben Cline issues statement on H.R. 748 – the CARES Act
WASHINGTON – Congressman Ben Cline (VA-06) released the below statement following the House passage of H.R. 748 – the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
“Our Nation is facing a historic crisis. In the last month, COVID-19 has infected over 85,000 Americans, more than any other nation on Earth. Over 1200 of our fellow Americans have perished, and we are making every effort to stop the virus from taking from us thousands more of our neighbors, our friends, and our family members. The first Virginian was infected only three weeks ago, and since then we have seen life as we know it across our Commonwealth come to a screeching halt.”
“The crisis created by this virus is twofold. It is first and foremost a health crisis, made worse by the stealth with which the virus spreads. Often those infected feel no symptoms and unsuspectingly pass the virus on to weaker and more vulnerable targets. And it takes advantage of the very characteristics that make us a great Nation, preying on our love of freedom, our love of social interaction, and our love of community. As the government has sought to eliminate the virus, it has urged practices that contradict many of these characteristics that make America great. Who would’ve thought that in America we would be advised not to gather in groups, eat out at a restaurant, or attend a graduation program, music concert, or church service?”
“The second crisis created by COVID-19 is economic, and the combination of the virus itself and the actions taken to fight the virus has brought our economy to its knees. As lock-downs are announced and bans on gatherings of more than 10 people enforced, the impact of our economy has been pronounced. The stock market has lost a third of its value, main streets across America are empty, and sporting events and other celebrations have been canceled. Just this week, it was announced that over 3 million people filed for unemployment last week, shattering the old record of 665,000 in March 2009. We cannot lose sight of the need to beat the virus on both the health front and the economic front.”
“With the passage of the CARES Act, Congress has acted to address both the health crisis and the economic crisis surrounding COVID-19, providing resources to hospitals and health care workers while supporting American workers and small businesses through this challenging time. While I did not agree with all of the provisions, I was pleased the Senate rejected Speaker Pelosi’s progressive wish list and proud to vote in favor of this legislation. It provides much-needed assistance to Sixth District residents and businesses and gives our hospitals and health care providers the best fighting chance to contain COVID-19 and rid it from our Nation.”
To read a more detailed summary of the bill, please click here.
For more information regarding the coronavirus, please visit cdc.gov, vdh.virginia.gov, or cline.house.gov/COVID-19.
Kaine releases statement on Senate passage of Coronavirus Economic Relief Package
U.S. Senator Tim Kaine released the following statement after the Senate approved a bipartisan coronavirus (COVID-19) economic relief package. The legislation includes Kaine’s priorities to provide direct payments to Americans, protect small businesses, expand access to child care, provide much-needed assistance to state and local governments, strengthen our health care system, ensure that funding for larger businesses is used to protect their employees, fund improvements to the nation’s public health data systems, help manufacturers affected by this crisis, expand unemployment assistance, put a temporary moratorium on evictions and foreclosures, support schools, strengthen America’s medical supply chain, increase nonprofit funding for maternal health, and increase funding for community action agencies.
“I’m so proud that Senate Democrats stood together and made sure that the bill we passed today will backstop the American economy by protecting workers and their families. Compared to the partisan proposal that the GOP hoped to jam through, this bill is far better for working people and the small businesses that make up the heart of our economy. It makes sure that funds to large businesses cannot be used to raise executive pay or for stock buybacks and guarantees transparency so that all Americans can know immediately who is receiving help. Finally, it is a Marshall Plan for the American health care system as it deals with a pandemic.
“These gains for regular Americans and our health care system would not have occurred had Democrats just gone along with the GOP proposal. There was enormous pressure to simply vote on a bill and be done, but we stayed on task until we got the details right.
“We now have to make sure the three bills we have passed in recent weeks are implemented promptly and fairly. And we need to keep our eye on our number one priority: getting through this health crisis by following science-based guidance. We lost 6-8 weeks at the front end of this pandemic due to the President choosing to downplay the threat of COVID-19 even as other nations like South Korea and Australia were ramping up testing and production of critical medical supplies. We cannot waste any more time on foolishly denying the scope of the problem.
“For America to get back to work, and for Americans to get past their natural fears and anxieties, we have to be smart from this point forward as we battle this virus. All people have a role to play in this by practicing social distancing to protect one another. I have confidence that Virginians and all Americans will meet this challenge.”
The following Kaine priorities were included in the package:
Direct payments to Americans: The legislation includes direct cash payments to all low- and middle-income Americans: $1,200 per single filer and $2,400 for joint filers, with an additional $500 per minor dependent. Kaine and his Democratic colleagues successfully called for cash relief that does not leave out America’s most vulnerable families, while the initial Republican proposal provided insufficient relief for these households.
Small business funding: The legislation provides nearly $350 billion in funding for forgivable small business loans. Funding will be provided through local banks and can be used to cover payroll, rent, mortgage interest, utilities, and other expenses. The portion that is forgiven will be scaled related to how many workers the business retains through the crisis.
Expand access to child care: The legislation includes Senator Kaine’s proposal with Senator Todd Young to increase funding, flexibility, and eligibility for the Child Care & Development Block Grant (CCDBG) to help ensure health care providers and other essential workers have access to child care during the pandemic.
State and local coronavirus relief fund: The legislation includes a $150 billion fund to support state, local, and tribal area efforts to address COVID-19. Funding will be provided directly to states, counties, and tribal areas.
Historic investment in the health care system: Democrats fought for and secured a $150 billion Marshall Plan for the health care system to support hospitals and other health care providers impacted by COVID-19 with necessary personal protective equipment, testing supplies, infrastructure, and more.
Guardrails for large business assistance: Democrats were able to secure additional guardrails on loans made to larger businesses, including restrictions on stock buybacks and protections that will lead to more workers being maintained on the payroll. Additionally, funding provided under this section will be subject to strict transparency and accountability requirements, including the establishment of a new Inspector General to oversee distribution, usage, and repayment of funds.
Data modernization: The legislation includes $500 million for public health data modernization, which Sen. Kaine has long championed. Last year, he introduced with Senators Isakson and King the Saving Lives Through Better Data Act, bipartisan legislation to modernize public health data infrastructure so clinicians, state health departments, and the CDC can work together more quickly and seamlessly to identify and respond to health threats like the coronavirus.
Help for American manufacturers: The legislation includes key provisions of bipartisan legislation Kaine introduced with Senator Chris Coons to help Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) centers, including the Commonwealth’s MEP affiliate Virginia GENEDGE, stay open during the COVID-19 crisis and beyond. MEP centers provide critical resources for small and medium manufacturers.
Expand unemployment assistance: The legislation includes key provisions of legislation Kaine cosponsored to provide federally-funded unemployment assistance to those affected by the coronavirus. Under the agreement, unemployment insurance would be provided to workers impacted by the coronavirus, including gig workers and freelancers.
Moratorium on evictions and foreclosures: The legislation implements temporary moratoriums on eviction and foreclosure proceedings. Single- and multi-family property owners in mortgages backed by federal agencies will be given the option for forbearance – allowing them to defer payments and add to the end of the loan. Renters in buildings covered by the Fair Housing Act or backed by federal funding will be protected against evictions for 120 days. Last week, Senator Kaine urged Senate leaders to place a moratorium on evictions, foreclosures and defaults for families and businesses during this national emergency.
Support for schools: The legislation provides $30.75 billion for grants to provide emergency support to local school systems and higher education institutions to continue to provide educational services to their students and support the on-going functionality of school districts and institutions. Last week, Kaine joined Senator Casey in urging Senator leaders to address concerns he has heard from Virginia institutions of higher education like providing stable housing and issues accessing technology needed for online learning.
Strengthen America’s supply chain: The legislation includes elements of the Strengthening America’s Supply Chain and National Security Act, bipartisan legislation Kaine introduced with Senator Rubio to combat vulnerabilities in America’s pharmaceutical supply chain.
Increase nonprofit funding for maternal health: The legislation includes Kaine’s bill to smooth pension funding for March of Dimes, based in Arlington, Virginia, allowing the organization to boost its public health work at this critical time.
Increase funding for community action agencies: The legislation includes $1 billion for Community Service Block Grants (CSBG) to support local community-based organizations providing social services and emergency assistance to those most in need. Last week, Kaine joined Senator Collins in calling for appropriators to include robust funding for CSBG to help address on-the-ground challenges that communities are facing.
Sixth District Perspectives with Congressman Ben Cline – March 22, 2020
As the coronavirus continues to dominate the news cycles, I want to take a moment to ensure that you have all the latest updates about the virus and information about how to protect yourself during this evolving situation.
Across our Nation, there is a great deal of fear and confusion regarding this virus, and that is why I have been working hard both from the District and Washington, DC to ensure Sixth District residents are informed.
First, I have created a new page on my website that provides the latest updates and resources from the CDC and across the Federal Government. I’ve also been sharing a great deal of information you may find useful on my Facebook and Twitter pages.
Further, I have continued to pass on information gathered from numerous conference calls I participate in each day, including calls with the Administration, Governor’s Office, state and federal health officials, and my colleagues in the House and Senate.
Additionally, I am looking forward to hearing from constituents during my coronavirus telephone town hall this coming Tuesday at 2:00 pm. If you would like to sign up for this event, please click here. The contact information for each of my offices can be found at the bottom of this page. Please do not hesitate to reach out if you have any questions or require assistance.
I’ve also been out and about in the community hearing from local businesses about how this situation has impacted them. I have assured them that there are resources available to help their business get through this difficult time.
In addition to keeping constituents informed, my colleagues and I in Congress, in conjunction with federal, state, and local officials, have been working to curb the virus from spreading to more of our Nation’s citizens. As demonstrated below, our goal is to “flatten the curve.” That is, we should slow the spread of COVID-19 so that as more cases arise, our healthcare system has time to adapt to meet demand, and medical professionals and scientists have time to develop vaccines and cures.
On March 4, I voted for and Congress passed $8.3 billion in emergency coronavirus funding for our public health agencies, which the President subsequently signed into law. New funding of $7.8 billion will be used to address this public health crisis, while $500 million will be used to replenish reserve funds that have been depleted over the past several weeks.
Additionally, this emergency funding invests over four billion dollars to make diagnostic kits more available. It allocates nearly one billion to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) exclusively for state and local response efforts. And it allows for billions in low-interest loans to small businesses, limiting the economic impact of the disease.
Further, Congress most recently passed a second bill mandating paid leave for employees of some small businesses, appropriating additional funds for state unemployment and Medicaid programs, and providing for free coronavirus testing. While there were several provisions in the second coronavirus bill with which I agree, I could not support the flawed and rushed process by which it was considered.
Currently, Congress is working on the third piece of coronavirus legislation that would make direct payments to certain individuals, provide assistance to small businesses, and supports some of our largest transportation and financial entities to help them remain solvent. It is expected that the Senate will pass the bill early next week, and I look forward to reviewing the legislation when it is sent over to the House for consideration.
Finally, in addition to these pieces of legislation, I have signed onto several letters to House Leadership and various Administration officials urging them to support policies that help combat this crisis and keep our Nation financially strong. Among them are letters promoting telemedicine in rural communities, ensuring our farms have the needed workforce to provide an adequate food supply and urging Speaker Pelosi to keep the House in session to effectively manage this crisis.
The Administration has taken a government-wide approach and initiated a $50 billion economic assistance package to support small businesses and workers harmed by the outbreak, as well as expanding loans to businesses, deferring tax payments for certain businesses and individuals negatively impacted, and calling on Congress to pass payroll tax relief.
On March 13, the President declared a State of Emergency, thus allowing the Secretary of Health and Human Services to exercise the authority under the National Emergencies Act to temporarily waive or modify certain requirements of the Medicare, Medicaid, and State Children’s Health Insurance programs and of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act Privacy Rule throughout the duration of the public health emergency declared in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.
To protect the health of Americans, the Administration is bringing together government and private industry in a collaborative process to expand testing capacity and access to pharmaceuticals, general-use face masks, therapeutics, and vaccines.
Further, testing is now available in every state lab in the country, and commercial labs are now deploying tests to localities, which will help generate a dramatic increase in availability.
This week, the Trump Administration announced expanded Medicare telehealth coverage that will enable beneficiaries to receive a wider range of healthcare services from their doctors without having to travel to a healthcare facility. Medicare will now temporarily pay clinicians to provide telehealth services for beneficiaries across the entire country.
In an effort to better understand and fight COVID-19, I have included two resources that provide valuable information that you may find beneficial from the Virginia Department of Health and the CDC. While the CDC is working toward vaccines and cures, there are several steps you can take to protect yourself and others from infection:
By taking these simple steps in your day-to-day life, you are helping “flatten the curve.”
As U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams said, “Caution is appropriate, preparedness is appropriate, panic is not.” If you experience symptoms or have been to an area where coronavirus is spreading, contact your doctor immediately to determine if you need screening.
Rest assured, I will continue to monitor the situation in Virginia and around the country and will work with my colleagues to ensure the full, coordinated force of the federal government is behind our efforts to stop the spread of this insidious and deadly virus.
• Follow @CDCgov on Twitter
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.
Warner Weekly Wrap-up: Hunkering Down
This week, the Senate passed a second bipartisan coronavirus relief package, focused on helping people feeling the economic consequences of the outbreak. Negotiations on a third, larger economic relief bill are currently ongoing.
Here’s your Warner Weekly Wrap-up:
That’s what they’re calling the initial bipartisan coronavirus economic relief package Congress passed on Wednesday. Among other provisions, this legislation:
• Guarantees testing for coronavirus will be free
• Expands unemployment insurance and reduces barriers for workers applying for UI
• Extends paid sick leave to some workers if they seek treatment for coronavirus, quarantine, or care for a family member with the virus
• Provides payroll tax credits to companies offering paid sick leave to their employees for coronavirus treatment
• Expands nutrition assistance for low-income families
• Provides additional funding for state Medicaid programs dealing with the coronavirus
Sens. Warner and Kaine, who both voted in favor of the legislation, issued a joint statement following the vote, saying:
“This legislation is a critical step forward to support workers and families impacted by the coronavirus. We’re pleased the bill includes our priorities to guarantee free coronavirus testing and establish paid sick leave for some American workers. This is one of many steps we must take to confront this pandemic. We will keep fighting for the resources Virginia needs to defend against this virus and help our economy recover from its consequences.”
The next step for Congress is what’s being called Phase III of the coronavirus response. Negotiations for this even larger economic stimulus and public health legislation are ongoing, and Sen. Warner is working around the clock to ensure that it contains provisions that will help Virginians who are struggling due to the coronavirus outbreak. Sen. Warner outlined two of his top priorities explicitly this week:
First, he is especially focused on disaster unemployment insurance for workers who have fallen through the cracks of our social safety net. As he stated in a video update to his constituents today, his priority is to expand unemployment insurance to cover furloughed workers, hourly workers, gig workers, and others who are missing paychecks but have not formally been laid off.
Second, Sen. Warner is working to ensure small and mid-sized businesses have sufficient cash flow to stay open during the coronavirus outbreak. In a statement this week, he proposed an emergency lending facility to provide credit to small and mid-sized businesses. His statement reads, in part:
“…We have to get cash flow back to our small and mid-sized businesses so that they can remain open, retain their employees, and survive through this public health emergency. Nearly 18 million people are employed in industries whose revenues are severely curtailed and are vulnerable to layoffs. Many businesses, particularly small and mid-sized firms, are running down their cash and credit lines. As we see more areas enforce tighter social distancing restrictions, this problem is only set to get worse.
“I am proposing that we immediately set up a small and mid-sized business liquidity facility, jointly run by the Treasury Department and Federal Reserve, to provide companies affected by the virus with federally-guaranteed loans at low rates throughout the crisis. The loans would be delivered through local financial institutions and backed by up to $1T in federal financing. A few important elements of this proposal include:
– Simple terms and underwriting requirements in order to quickly deliver cash flow to these businesses;
– Protections to ensure that any company taking a loan is required to retain a large portion of its workforce; and
– Some specific mechanisms to avoid any moral hazard and hold financial institutions accountable.
“If we do not take action immediately, thousands of American businesses and millions of their employees are at enormous risk. I look forward to working with my colleagues in the coming days to provide them the assistance they need to weather the current crisis.”
As Yahoo Finance noted this week, Sen. Warner’s proposal, “…would include some protection that would require a borrower to commit to keeping their employees on the payroll. Warner said he is also considering additional measures that may restrict executive compensation.”
Sen. Warner, a notorious worker of the phones since his days as Governor, has been actively engaging with colleagues on both sides of the aisle, working to ensure Virginia’s priorities are represented in the next phase of coronavirus legislation. Stay tuned.
HELP FOR SMALL BUSINESSES
While Sen. Warner continues to push for this larger emergency liquidity facility, some emergency capital just became available to Virginia small businesses. On Thursday, the Small Business Administration (SBA) issued a statewide economic injury disaster loan declaration.
This declaration unlocks emergency long-term, low-interest loans for small businesses for up to $2 million to help cover operating costs during the coronavirus outbreak.
Sen. Warner applauded the announcement and quickly began spreading the word for eligible businesses.
Small business owners in need of assistance should first read this SBA fact sheet, then apply online using the SBA website.
ADDITIONAL CORONAVIRUS ACTIONS
Here is a list of additional steps Sen. Warner has taken this week to assist Virginians impacted by the Coronavirus outbreak:
• TELEHEALTH: Sen. Warner applauded the announcement that Medicare would begin paying clinicians across the country for telehealth services to Medicare beneficiaries during the coronavirus outbreak. This decision was enabled by passage earlier this month of provisions from Sen. Warner’s bipartisan CONNECT for Health Act of 2019, as part of the initial $8.3 billion coronavirus response package.
• VIRGINIA VETERANS: In letters sent today, Sens. Warner and Kaine urged four Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) medical centers to expend every effort to ensure that veterans and the health providers who care for them are safe amid the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. In letters to the Hunter Holmes McGuire VA Medical Center, the Salem VA Medical Center, the Hampton VA Medical Center, and the Washington DC VA Medical Center, the Senators asked for more information on each facility’s efforts to address the spread of COVID-19 while ensuring the health of VA employees.
• NO CAPS: Sen. Warner applauded announcements by several major internet service providers that they would adopt practices to better accommodate the use of remote technologies that students, workers, and public health officials will rely upon during the coronavirus outbreak.
• DAYCARE: Sens. Warner and Kaine sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar, urging the agency to issue clear guidance for child care providers to determine whether these centers should remain open amid the nationwide COVID-19 outbreak.
• AMERICANS ABROAD: Sen. Warner urged Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to provide State Department guidance and assistance to Americans stuck abroad after heightened travel restrictions, lockdowns, and border closures across the globe to curb the spread of coronavirus have left U.S. citizens stranded in foreign countries indefinitely.
• POWER BILLS: This week, Sens. Warner and Kaine urged the body that regulates public utilities including electricity, natural gas, and water in Virginia to promptly issue an order suspending the charging of late fees through the duration of Virginia’s state of emergency due to the novel coronavirus outbreak.
• FEDERAL WORKERS: Sen. Warner led seven of his Senate colleagues in a letter calling on the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to post department and agency contingency plans amid the COVID-19 outbreak so that Americans know what services to expect as more federal agencies begin to ramp up teleworking capabilities to mitigate the spread of the virus.
• DoD GUIDANCE: On Friday, Sen. Warner pushed the Department of Defense (DoD) to issue guidance for uniformed, civilian, and contractor personnel to help them better understand their options for paid leave and telework amid the COVID-19 outbreak.
• UNEMPLOYMENT: Following the passage of the bipartisan coronavirus economic relief package that day, Sen. Warner led a letter urging state governors and workforce administrators to implement its provisions easing restrictions on emergency unemployment benefits.
• NURSING HOMES & DISABILITIES: Sens. Warner and Kaine joined more than 30 of their Democratic colleagues to press the Coronavirus Task Force on their preparedness and response plans for seniors and individuals with disabilities.
• AD SCAMS: Sens. Warner and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) sent a letter to the Federal Trade Commission, expressing deep concern that Google – despite claiming to ban ads that capitalize on novel coronavirus fears – continues to run ads for products such as face masks and hand sanitizer.
• HOSPITALITY & TOURISM: The Virginia and Maryland Senators sent a letter to the financial regulators asking them to take action to mitigate the adverse impacts of the coronavirus on workers in the hospitality and tourism industry.
• RURAL RESPONSE: In light of the unique challenges facing rural communities, Sen. Warner sent a letter to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to coordinate with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) to enable thousands of federal civil servants, who have experience with rapid emergency response, to assist rural communities that are increasingly overwhelmed by the challenge of responding to the COVID-19 outbreak.
• TELEWORK FOR FEDS: Following a mixed message from the administration to federal workers and contractors, Sen. Warner joined 24 of his colleagues in urging the President to immediately issue an executive order directing agencies to maximize the use of telework.
(NON-CORONAVIRUS) GRAB BAG
• EASTERN DISTRICT: Sens. Warner and Kaine sent a letter to the White House recommending U.S. Magistrate Judge Roderick C. Young and U.S. Magistrate Judge Douglas E. Miller for the vacancy in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Norfolk Division.
• DREAMERS: Sen. Warner joined a group of 36 Senators and 87 Representatives in pressing the Trump Administration on reports that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is preparing mass deportations of Dreamers, young immigrants who grew up in the United States and know no other home.
• GW PARKWAY: Last Friday, Sen. Warner led a bicameral letter to Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao in support of the National Park Service’s grant application for $102 million in federal funds to reconstruct nearly eight miles of the northern section of the George Washington Memorial Parkway.
Social distancing. The Senate is expected to vote on a third coronavirus relief package in the coming days.