Senate Passes Additional Coronavirus Relief Legislation
$484 Billion to Support Paycheck Protection Program, Hospitals & Testing
U.S. Senators Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan, (both R-AK), today applauded unanimous Senate passage of a coronavirus relief package totaling $484 billion, which provides additional funding for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), COVID-19 testing, and added support for hospitals. The purpose of the majority of this funding is to provide a boost to programs that were previously authorized and funded from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act which was signed into law in March.
“The federal delegation has been working hard to ensure that Alaskans have the resources and support that they need as we face the COVID-19 pandemic. The initial legislative measures to help address the short-term impacts were not perfect, but they were significant and necessary to help meet some of the immediate needs. As the situation continues to evolve, we have identified priorities within the CARES Act that require additional funding. The bill passed today is intended to shore up some of those supportive programs,” said Senator Murkowski. “Included in the legislation is significant, additional funding for the Paycheck Protection Program, as well as for a disaster loan program to help our small businesses stay afloat. And to strengthen our healthcare response efforts, the bill directs additional funding towards hospitals, healthcare providers, and COVID-19 testing. We recognize that accurate and available testing will be key to getting our businesses back online and our economy running, so the $25 billion directed to expedite testing is vital to our stabilization and recovery efforts. We know that the implications of this pandemic will be long-lasting, but Congress remains committed to doing what we can to protect America’s public health and economy.”
“Funding for the Paycheck Protection Program in the CARES Act has been essential to keep employees connected to their employers during the unprecedented challenges caused by the coronavirus pandemic,” said Senator Sullivan. “In Alaska, nearly 5,000 small businesses have received $1 billion in funds from this program. But more is needed. Since the program ran out of funds five days ago, I’ve heard from small businesses all across the state that are desperate to continue to retain their workers and to keep their businesses from permanently closing. While it is unconscionable that politics kept us from replenishing this fund before it ran out, I’m glad we were able to pass the relief package today. I also support the inclusion of an additional $60 billion for the SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program which was severely underfunded and oversubscribed soon after the passage of the CARES Act. Further, I support the additional funds for our hospitals, our health care workers who are on the front lines of this pandemic, and for state and federal agencies to expand testing capacity, which is critically important for reopening our country. While this is a positive step, Alaskans should know that we will continue to work relentlessly to ensure that small businesses in our state—including those connected to the seasonal tourism industry and our hard-working fishermen—are also able to fully take advantage of this relief.”
Rapid Relief to our Small Businesses and Their Employees: The bill authorizes an additional $310 billion to support loans through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). The PPP provides fee-free loans of up to $10 million for businesses and many non-profits, which can be used to help pay for a variety of expenses. In addition, loans to employers who maintain their payroll during the emergency may be forgiven for up to 8 weeks of payroll, rent, utilities and mortgage interest payments. Tribal small businesses will be eligible for these loans. The program is also available to self-employed individuals and “gig economy” workers. Of the increase, $60 billion is set aside for small- and medium-sized lenders.
Economic Injury Loans and Emergency Grants: An additional $50 billion is provided for the Disaster Loans Program Account, which replenishes funds for Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL). The bill provides a $10 billion boost to the EIDL Grants program. In addition, the bill allows agricultural enterprises with no more than 500 employees to be eligible for EIDL grants and loans.
Support for Hospitals, Medical Professionals & Testing: The bill provides $100 billion to address healthcare needs— including support for healthcare providers, funding to increase testing capacity, and direct support for states and tribes responding to the pandemic. Specifically, $75 billion is provided to ensure healthcare providers and hospitals continue to receive the support they need for COVID-19 related expenses and lost revenue. To expand capacity for COVID-19 tests, $25 billion is provided for expenses related to expanding COVID-19 testing capacity. This funding for expanding testing includes $11 billion available for states and localities, with $750 million of that provided to tribes and tribal health organizations. Additionally, $825 million will be available for Community Health Centers and rural health clinics.
- On March 5, Senators Murkowski and Sullivan voted in favor of an emergency supplemental funding package, the Coronavirus Preparedness & Response Supplemental Appropriations Act, which includes a total of $8.3 billion to help better prevent, prepare for, and respond to COVID-19. The bill aims to strengthen the federal response to the coronavirus outbreak and allow for necessary precautions, prevention, and treatment at the local, state, national, and international levels.
- On March 18, Senators Murkowski and Sullivan voted in favor of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, a bill aimed at bolstering the federal government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic to help mitigate the health and economic impacts of the outbreak by ensuring testing is free for Americans, securing paid sick leave as well as family and medical leave, enhancing unemployment insurance to help workers, and ensuring that students, seniors, and low-income households can continue to access nutrition assistance.
- On March 21, the Alaska Congressional Delegation announced Small Business Administration economic injury disaster loans are now available for Alaska small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak.
- On March 25, Senators Murkowski and Sullivan voted in favor of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, a bill to provide major relief to families, small businesses and their employees, as well as to stabilize our economy and protect jobs.