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Wittman's Weekly: We Work, We Fight, We Rise.
Washington, April 25, 2020
This week, Congress briefly returned to Washington to pass legislation to continue to fight the COVID-19. This was the first time the full House of Representatives has met since passing the CARES Act at the end of March. Included in the CARES Act was the creation of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) – a program designed to allow small businesses to receive loans to keep their employees on payroll and make ends meet during these challenging times. Since it’s roll out on April 3, 2020, there were over a million loans approved by over 4,000 lenders across the country. However, last week, the funds for this program ran out.
Replenishing these funds became absolutely essential, however small businesses were left waiting due to partisan delays. I fought non-stop to encourage leadership to bring us back to Washington to replenish those funds as quickly as possible – and this week we finally accomplished that.
Yesterday, the House voted on a measure called the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act (PPP/HCE) – now signed into law. I supported this package because it is critical to our continued recovery as a nation to the COVID-19 pandemic. The legislation provides much-needed funds to replenish the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and provides additional monies to the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) grant program, while also allocating funding to our hospitals and towards increasing COVID-19 testing capacity.
Specifically, it provides $310 billion for the PPP, which will allow the federal government to continue providing forgivable loans to cover the cost of payroll and operating expenses for small businesses. Over the past few weeks, I've heard from small businesses across the district who have accessed funds through the PPP. Some have used this money to keep their business afloat, to keep their workers off of the unemployment rolls, but also some who are about to face bankruptcy because they weren't able to get a loan in the first round. Hopefully now those businesses will receive the funds they need.
This legislation also provides $75 billion to support the heroes on the front lines of this crisis and our healthcare system, including additional funding to reimburse hospitals and healthcare providers for lost revenues and expenses related to the outbreak. Finally, this bill will provide $25 billion to expand testing, including $11 billion for states, localities, territories, and tribes to develop, purchase, administer, process, and analyze COVID-19 tests, scale-up laboratory capacity, trace contacts, and support employer testing. Expanding testing will provide information on where cases are occurring and support continued eﬀorts to reopen communities and reignite our economy.
This week, we hit over 10,000 cases of COVID-19 in Virginia – a sobering reminder that, although we have made significant progress, there is still much work to be done. My thoughts and prayers are with the victims of this virus and their families and those facing economic challenges and unemployment.
I also want to offer a sincere thank you to all of the essential workers on the frontlines of this crisis — the medical professionals, farmers, truck drivers, postal workers, warehouse workers, and others who are making a meaningful and measurable difference in the lives of everyone. We will be forever grateful for those who have kept us safe, kept us healthy, and kept us fed.
I make this promise: we will fight the virus together until we defeat it together. In the end, we are going to be stronger and healthier than ever before – because that is who we are as Americans. We work, we fight, and we rise.