Congresswoman Terri Sewell

Representing the 7th District of Alabama
 

Rep. Sewell Votes in Favor of Latest Coronavirus Relief Package

Apr 23, 2020
Press Release
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell (AL-07) voted in favor of the House-passed Senate Amendment to H.R. 266, the Interim Emergency Coronavirus Relief Package, otherwise known as the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act.
 
“I am hopeful that this legislation will offer relief to our small businesses, health care providers and states as they battle the coronavirus,” said Rep. Sewell. “I am especially pleased with the provisions in this legislation that take steps to address the inequities of the Paycheck Protection Program. Moving forward, we should build on these improvements to ensure that businesses in underserved communities are able to access the resources they need to succeed.”
 
“I’ve heard too many stories from frustrated business owners who have been unable to access the Paycheck Protection Program due to a lack of an existing relationship with a lender, or difficulty navigating the complex application process. And these issues are disproportionately harming the rural and minority-owned businesses that make up the heart of my district,” Sewell said on the House floor today. “It was necessary to address this injustice and directly allocate funding to lenders that service the beauty salons, barber shops and restaurants on Main Streets across the country.”
 
The legislation, Congress’ fourth coronavirus response package, includes $320 billion to make new loans under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which provides forgivable loans to U.S. small business that keep employees on the payroll for eight weeks and has run out of funding.
 
Critically, the legislation improves the program by expanding access to assistance for small businesses in underserved areas, including rural, minority-owned and underbanked businesses, and provides a $60 billion set-aside for small and mid-sized banks and credit unions as well as community-based lending institutions. This set-aside funding will help ensure that unbanked and underserved businesses can get access to PPP. This includes minority-owned businesses, rural businesses, small mom and pop businesses, and smaller nonprofits that too often have been pushed to the back of the line.
 
The legislation also includes key funding for the following programs:
 
  • $50 billion for SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Program, which has also run out of funding:  This emergency loan program provides flexible assistance to COVID-19-affected small businesses to cover operating expenses, including payroll and fixed costs like rent and utilities. This bill provides $50 billion in EIDL program subsidy that will support over $350 billion in new disaster loans directly from SBA. 
 
  • $10 billion for SBA’s EIDL Grant Program, which has also run out of funding: The bill provides $10 billion for the EIDL grant program, which offers up to $10,000 in cash advances for immediate relief to small businesses and eligible nonprofits that apply for an EIDL loan. The cash advance does not have to be paid back.  
 
  • Expands the list of eligible entities for the EIDL Program to include farmers and other agricultural enterprises to the:  The bill adds agricultural enterprises under 500 employees as an eligible recipient for grants of up to $10,000 and low-interest loans of up to $2 million through the SBA’s EIDL program.
 
  • $75 billion for hospitals and health care workers:  The bill provides $75 billion to reimburse hospitals and other health care providers for health care related expenses or lost revenue attributable to COVID-19. This funding can be used for such purposes as desperately needed Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for our health care workers.  This funding is in addition to the $100 billion that was provided for this same purpose in the CARES Act. 
 
  • Requires a federal COVID-19 strategic testing plan:  The bill requires the Secretary of HHS, no later than 30 days after the date of enactment, to submit to Congress a COVID-19 Strategic Testing Plan.  The plan is to focus on increasing domestic testing capacity including testing supplies. The plan is to be updated every 90 days. 
 
  • Requires a federal report with demographic data on COVID-19: The bill requires the Secretary of HHS, no later than 21 days after the date of enactment, to submit a report to Congress on the number of cases, hospitalizations, and deaths related to COVID-19, including de-identified data disaggregated by race, ethnicity, age, sex, geographic region, and other relevant factors. The report must be updated every 30 days.
 
  • Requires an additional federal report with demographic data on COVID-19:  The bill requires the Secretary of HHS, no later than 180 days after the date of enactment, to submit a report to Congress on the number of positive diagnoses, hospitalizations, and deaths as a result of COVID-19, including data disaggregated nationally by race, ethnicity, age, sex, geographic region, and other relevant factors. 
 
  • $25 Billion for Expenses Related to Expanding COVID-19 Testing:  This funding includes covering expenses related to research, development, validation, manufacturing, purchasing, administering, or expanding capacity for COVID-19 testing. The $25 billion includes:
    • $11 billion for states, localities, territories, and tribes for COVID-19 testing and related activities: The $11 billion can be used for necessary expenses to develop, purchase, administer, process and analyze COVID-19 tests, including support for the workforce, epidemiology, use by employers, scaling up testing, conducting surveillance, conducting contact tracing, and other related testing activities.
    • $600 million for Community Health Centers:  The $600 million for Community Health Centers is to be used to support COVID-19 testing.
    • $225 million for Rural Health Clinics:  The $225 million for Rural Health Clinics is to be used to support COVID-19 testing.
    • $1 billion for testing for the uninsured: This $1 billion is to cover the cost of testing the uninsured.
 
The Senate passed the legislation by unanimous consent on Tuesday. It now heads to the President’s desk for his signature.

Video of Sewell’s speech on the House floor today in support of the legislation is available here.