Higgins Votes to Support Hospitals, Testing, Small Business & Workers
Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26) voted in favor of a coronavirus emergency package that provides relief to healthcare providers, expands the Paycheck Protection Program keeping small businesses afloat and employees working, and funds testing capacity toward the goal of restarting the economy. At the same time Higgins expressed great frustration that the bill didn’t include funding he supported for communities dealing with COVID-19 response.
Democrats pushed for state and local funding but it was rejected by the GOP. Earlier this week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he favors allowing states to declare bankruptcy.
Higgins spoke out about the GOP’s insistence to leave communities out of this package in a video statement from Buffalo earlier this week, and in remarks on the House floor before the vote calling McConnell’s bankruptcy suggestion “arrogant and insulting,” adding “what we need at this time of national crisis, national emergency, we need leaders that possess goodness, humility, courage and a sense that we are all in this together – a sense of national solidarity.”
To access video go to: https://youtu.be/aMaZtGqEsJk
Below is a breakdown of the funding included in the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act:
$310 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program
- Low interest loans which can be forgiven for small businesses (under 500 employees) and non-profits that keep their employees on the payroll
- $30 billion set aside for smaller, community banks
- $30 billion set aside for credit unions or Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI’s)
- The CARES Act included $349 billion for PPP; this brings total allocation to $659 billion
$60 billion for disaster assistance to small businesses
- $50 billion for emergency disaster loans
- $10 billion in emergency disaster grants
$75 billion to support health care providers and hospitals
- This is in addition to the $100 billion provided to hospitals in the CARES Act.
$25 billion for virus testing, critical to reopening the economy
- Includes $11 billion for states, localities and tribes
- 21 days after enactment, the Secretary must issue a report on Covid testing with demographic and geographic data, which must be updated every 30 days. The report will also detail cases, hospitalizations and deaths as a result of Covid.
While this emergency package did not include direct aid for communities beyond relief for business, hospitals, and testing, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, approved by the House on March 27th, did include funding to support a variety of community needs.Below is a rundown of some of the funding delivered to Western New York thus far:
- $68.8 million for local students and colleges,
- $2.6 million for WNY federally qualified health clinics,
- $1 million for police departments,
- $61.3 million for public transportation – NFTA for busses and transit,
- $23.53 million for Buffalo & Niagara Falls airports,
- $20 million to local communities through the Community Development Block Grant program
- Tens of millions of dollars to hospitals and other healthcare providers, and
- Up to $160 million for Erie County as well as support for the Seneca Nation.
The Senate voted to approve H.R.266, the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act on April 21. With House approval in a vote of 388-5-1, the bill now moves to the President who is expected to sign it into law.