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Wittman statement on voting YES to support First District Priorities, families, small businesses, and provide greater pandemic relief

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Washington, December 21, 2020 | comments

Today, Congressman Rob Wittman (VA-01) issued the following statement after voting in favor of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, which fully funds the government through September 30th, 2021, and provides additional COVID-19 pandemic relief, relief to small businesses, American workers, and more. 

“The government funding and COVID-19 relief package Congress passed today is a critical funding bill that funds many of the priorities of the First Congressional District including increased and stable funding for our military, support for our Veterans, investments in broadband and our rural communities, assistance to our Law Enforcement Officers, and much-needed relief to millions of Americans.

“Despite months of delays, unnecessary posturing, and piles of ignored legislation by Speaker Pelosi and House Democrats, the package passed today reflects key bipartisan priorities. It includes vital provisions supporting our response to the pandemic, including targeted relief to small businesses, additional funding to speed vaccine production and distribution, and also provides assistance to reopening schools and rebuilding our economy.”

The Consolidated Appropriations Act includes key government funding directly advanced by Congressman Wittman:

  • Creates a new $300 Million Broadband Grant Program, as advocated for in Congressman Wittman’s Serving Rural America Act.
  • Fully funds the Broadband DATA Act so federal funds can be more efficiently targeted to close the digital divide.
  • Expands telehealth grants by funding the FCC to carry out the temporary telehealth pilot program authorized under the CARES Act. 
  • Allocates funding for two Virginia-Class submarines, one above the budget request, both of which are built in Virginia.
  • Provides $2.87 billion for the overall Columbia-Class submarine program, providing a great boost to the economy in the Commonwealth.
  • Allocates $10 million for the Cable Ship Security Program, which Congressman Wittman had authorized in the FY20 NDAA to shore up a critical strategic infrastructure gap.
  • Supports Congressman Wittman’s legislation that was included in the FY21 NDAA to bundle the acquisition of amphibious ships which will save the taxpayers roughly $1 billion.
  • Extends Section 3610 of the CARES Act to reimburse federal contractors, a large section of the workforce in VA-01, for the cost of providing pandemic-related leave.
  • Allows the transfer of National Park Service lands for the Long Bridge Project under Congressman Wittman’s Long Bridge Act.
  • Provides $25 million for the Veterans Treatment Court Grant Program, a program advocated for by Congressman Wittman.
  • Provides additional extensions and funding to vital Chesapeake Bay clean-up programs,advocated for by Congressman Wittman, which have wide-reaching impacts in coastal Virginia. 

“For months, Speaker Pelosi refused to bring serious legislation to the floor to address the COVID-19 pandemic and provide relief for millions of Americans.  Instead of working together to pass what we could agree on, the Speaker forced the House to vote on massive partisan bills earlier this year, one that cost over $3 trillion dollars and was filled  with Democratic policy riders that had no chance of becoming law.  However, today’s bill includes a $900 billion coronavirus pandemic relief package specifically designed to help Americans who have suffered as a result of this pandemic.

“This bill extends the Paycheck Protection Program and provides additional relief to small businesses. It includes an extension of pandemic unemployment insurance, providing relief to the millions of Americans whose businesses have closed or who have been out of work due to the pandemic. And it includes direct payments that will go to most Americans. Once again, this bill represents a bipartisan compromise – and one that frankly should have been done months ago with bipartisan approval had it not been for Speaker Pelosi’s insistence on playing political games.”

COVID-19 Pandemic Relief Highlights:

  • Small Business Tax Relief 
    • Extends an additional lifeline to small businesses by ensuring additional relief to small businesses through the Paycheck Protection Program, emergency EIDL grants program, and certain loan repayment assistance programs in the CARES Act by providing further guidance that the forgiven loan or grant amount shall not be included as gross income to the businesses and that businesses can still deduct the expenses paid with the proceeds of the forgiven loans or grants.
  • Provides over $280 billion to reopen and strengthen the PPP program.
    • Businesses under 300 employees and have had a 25% reduction in revenue are eligible for a second round.
    • Increases the PPP loan amount for Restaurants and Hotels from 2.5x payroll to 3.5x, providing an extra month’s worth of payroll support
    • Codifies rules for faith-based organizations and churches to ensure eligibility remains intact.
    • Makes eligible 501c6s, destination marketing organizations (DMOs).
    • Creates a simplified PPP loan forgiveness application for loans under $150,000 dollars
    • Allows employers to deduct PPP related businesses expenses.
  • Reopening America
    • $20 billion for the purchase of vaccines that will make the vaccine available at no charge for anyone who needs it 
    • $8 billion for vaccine distribution
    • $20 billion to assist states with testing
    • $20 billion distribution from existing provider relief fund
  • Stimulus checks -- $600 for both adults and dependents with safeguards to prohibit illegal aliens from receiving payment
  • Temporarily extends a number of unemployment programs created by CARES Act that expire Dec. 31, 2020
    • Provide unemployed individuals an additional $300 per week for 10 weeks from December 26, 2020-March 14, 2021
    • Extends and phases-out PUA, which is a temporary federal program covering self-employed and gig workers, to March 14 (after which no new applicants) through April 5, 2021
  • $10 billion for grants to childcare centers to help providers safely reopen
  • $4 billion for substance abuse – significant progress made over past several years on opioid addiction has been reversed because of impact of COVID lockdowns
  • $82 billion in funding for schools and universities to assist with reopening for in-person learning that also includes $2.75 billion in designated funds for private K through 12 education
  • $25 billion in temporary and targeted rental assistance for individuals who lost their source of income during the pandemic; extends the eviction moratorium until January 31, 2021

For months, I had called on my colleagues in Washington to come to a workable deal for the American people providing targeted relief, an extension of the job-saving Paycheck Protection Program, and other vital services and programs for individuals, families, and businesses necessary for our economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. This relief bill is great news but comes too late for the millions of Americans and thousands of small businesses that suffered for months as Speaker Pelosi refused to pass targeted relief.

“I will continue advocating for the people of Virginia’s First Congressional District in Washington and will do my utmost to hold Members of Congress accountable to the people we serve.”

The Consolidated Appropriations Act includes key priorities of Congressman Wittman and the First Congressional District of Virginia:

National Security Wins 

  • Provides our military with the resources to defend our nation and advance U.S. national security
  • Includes a 3% pay raise for the troops and provides the resources to continue rebuild our military, deter adversaries, and defend our national security interests
  • Extends Sec. 3610 of the Cares Act which allows for reimbursement to federal contractors for the cost of providing COVID-19 related leave
  • Funds two Virginia-class submarines, one above the budget request and $2.87 billion for Columbia-class submarine program; both of which are built in Virginia
  • Includes $10 million for the Cable Ship Security Program, which Congressman Wittman  had authorized in the FY20 NDAA to shore up a critical strategic infrastructure gap
  • Supports Congressman Wittman’s legislation that was included in the FY21 NDAA to bundle the acquisition of our amphibious ships which will save the taxpayers roughly $1 billion
  • Increases the Navy’s shipbuilding budget by $3.4 billion to support the National Defense Strategy and allow us to compete on the global stage

Veterans Wins

  • Fully funds veterans’ healthcare, including the MISSION Act’s community care program, as well as other critical programs
  • Provides a total of $2.63 billion to continue VA’s transition to a new electronic health records system and increases congressional oversight of the program
  • Provides a total of $10.3 billion for VA mental health programs, including $313 million for suicide prevention outreach
  • Provides a total of $1.9 billion to prevent veteran homelessness, including $420 million for Supportive Services for Veterans Families and $270 million for the Homeless Providers Grant and Per Diem Program
  • Provides $661 million for gender-specific care to ensure VA meets the needs of women veterans, including $1 million for peer support programsds

Broadband Wins

  • Creates a new $300 Million Broadband Grant Program, as envisioned in Congressman Wittman’s Serving Rural America Act
  • Provides $732 million for rural broadband, the highest level in history, including $635 million for the ReConnect broadband pilot for unserved and underserved areas as well as $60 million for Distance Learning and Telemedicine grants
  • Fully funds the Broadband DATA Act by appropriating $65 million dollars to carry out Title VIII of the Communications Act of 1934 so federal funds can be more efficiently targeted to close the digital divide
  • Appropriates an additional $250 million to the FCC to carry out the temporary telehealth pilot program authorized under the CARES Act and requires that the Commission equitably distributes the funding to the extent feasible

Rural Infrastructure Wins

  • Provides $3.9 billion for rural development programs, as well as more than $38.1 billion in loans for rural housing, rural utilities, and rural businesses, which assists in building sustainable rural infrastructure for the modern economy and helps create an environment for economic growth and opportunity
  • Includes $2 billion for highway infrastructure grants
  • Provides $1 billion for Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) grants, including a requirement that half of the grants go to rural communities; $400 million for discretionary airport grants; and $3.5 billion for Community Development Block Grants, $50 million above FY20

Healthcare Wins

  • Extends important public health programs for three years, including community health centers - eliminating several funding cliffs over next several years
  • Ends surprise medical billing
    • True and honest cost estimate for patients three days prior to scheduled procedure
    • Arbitration – independent dispute resolution process with no benchmark rate and multiple factors (but not government program reimbursement rates) which can be considered in arbitration process
  • Supports Front Line Health Care Providers by injecting billions of dollars into Medicare physician pay in 2021 and heading off payment cuts due to be enacted next year
  • Improves support for Rural and Underserved Health Care

Environment Wins

  • Allows the transfer of National Park Service lands for the Long Bridge Project under Congressman Wittman’s Long Bridge Act 
  • Funds the Bureau of Indian Affairs' Consolidated Tribal Government Program above the enacted level, to the benefit of Virginia’s federally recognized tribes, which Congressman Wittman helped receive recognition in 2018
  • Funds the vital North American Wetlands Conservation Fund

Law Enforcement Wins

  • Rejects efforts to defund the police and provides strong support for our nation’s federal, state, and local law enforcement
  • Strongly supports our nation’s federal, state, and local law enforcement officers by increasing funding for the Department of Justice and preserving federal grant programs that bolster state and local efforts to keep our communities safe
  • Expands law enforcement resources in support of mental and behavioral health intervention teams, de-escalation training, agencies gaining accreditation, and small and rural law enforcement agencies
  • Provides increased funding for Department of Justice initiatives, such as the STOP School Violence and the COPS Hiring programs, which expand threat assessment, violence prevention, school hardening, and resource officer support
  • Combats the drug epidemic by increasing funds for Office of National Drug Control Policy programs such as High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas and Drug Free Communities
  • Reduces violent and gun crimes by:
    • Fully funding the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS);
    • Increasing funding for U.S. Attorneys; Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; and U.S. Marshals Service to address violent crime; and
    • Providing $85 million in grants to states to improve records used in background checks, and $24 million for police active shooter and survivability training

Energy Wins

  • Continues to advance the nation’s “all-of-the-above” solution to energy independence through targeted investments in research and development in all energy sources, including nuclear, fossil, geothermal, and hydropower, as well as solar and wind
  • Provides $368 million to protect our nation’s energy infrastructure against cyber and other attacks and to increase the efficiency and technological advancement of the nation’s electricity delivery system

Pro-Life Wins

  • Prohibits federal funds from being used to pay for abortions except in cases of rape, incest, or life endangerment of the mother
  • Prohibits the creation or destruction of embryos for research purposes
  • Protects the Trump Administration’s Title X Family Planning regulations
  • Maintains the Hyde Amendment, Tiahrt Amendment, Helms Amendment, Dickey Amendment, and Kemp-Kasten Amendment, maintaining critical pro-life funding restrictions

Border Security Wins

  • Rejects poison pill riders that would have limited the ability of Border Protral to detain illegal migrants in the U.S., and would have allowed taxpayer dollars for legal assistance to illegal immigrants  
  • Assists Border Patrol Agents by providing $20 million for new border processing coordinators and $103 million for improvements to border patrol facilities
  • Funds the border wall, providing $1.375 billion in new funding
  • Provides funding for investments in border security technology, including at ports of entry, and $80 million over the request for additional enforcement aircraft and helicopters 
Congressman Rob Wittman represents the 1st District of Virginia. He serves on the House Natural Resources Committee and the House Armed Services Committee, where he serves as the ranking member of the Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee.

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