Slotkin Statement on COVID Relief Bill
U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin (MI-08) today voted in favor of a COVID relief package that would provide desperately-needed funding to support Michigan families, small businesses, schools, and 8th district communities grappling with the ongoing economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic. The bill includes $7.47 billion for the state of Michigan and hundreds of millions for 8th district municipalities.
The vote came as talks continue between Congressional and White House leadership on a final, bipartisan package ---- something for which Slotkin has been a lead advocate in recent weeks. Immediately upon returning to Washington in September, Slotkin joined the Problem Solvers Caucus in unveiling a bipartisan framework for a new COVID relief package, aimed at breaking the months-long logjam in negotiations on a package between senior leadership in the House, Senate and White House. Since then, Speaker Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin have restarted negotiations on COVID relief legislation, and those conversations continue.
"I am frustrated that a bipartisan deal has not yet been reached, and that today we voted on another Democratic-led package rather than a deal forged between leadership from the House, the Senate, and the White House. The Problem Solvers Caucus put forward a bipartisan framework for a deal two weeks ago, and I urge all sides to continue negotiating in earnest unless and until a deal is struck. The residents of the 8th district need clarity and predictability and expect the leaders of both parties to lock themselves in a room until they come to a deal, just as they did five times last spring.
"Despite my reservations on process, I'm voting in favor of this legislation because of how badly families and businesses in Michigan need help. This bill re-opens the PPP loan program to let hard-hit businesses apply for a second round; provides more funding for our schools, for lost revenues for our state and local governments, for broadband access, and for the postal service. I do not agree with everything in this bill, but the needs of our district and our state outweigh my concerns with specific provisions.
"During this once-in-a-generation crisis, the need to put politics aside -- even during election season -- to get help to the people who need it has never been more important. To leadership in my own party, as well as leaders in the Senate and White House: Continue serious negotiations. Continue to find areas of common ground until a bipartisan deal is reached. Do not let the perfect be the enemy of the good. That is our responsibility, and our mandate."
The COVID-19 relief legislation that passed the House today, would:
Expand cash in peoples' pockets:
Issue a second round of $1,200 direct payments to support working families.
Fix a problem with the previous round of economic impact payments that left out some older dependents, such as high school and college students and those on disability. Now, all dependents, regardless of age, will be eligible for $500.
Help save our state and towns from massive layoffs, and even bankruptcy, by providing:
More than $7.47 billion in aid to the state of Michigan to prevent devastating layoffs of teachers, first responders, health and sanitation workers and other critical personnel.
Direct funding to local governments, to cover lost revenues from COVID-19. In the 8th district, these funds would support fire and police departments, county health departments working to stop the spread of COVID-19 and preparing for eventual mass vaccine distribution, help continue local infrastructure projects like roads, pathways, and parks, and prevent employee layoffs.
Under this bill, funding includes:
$51 million for Livingston County
$78 million for Ingham County
$350 million for Oakland County
$62 million for Lansing
$15 million for East Lansing
$6.2 million total for Brighton and Brighton Township
$3.9 million total for Howell and Howell Township
$17.6 million for Rochester Hills
$3.1 million for Rochester
Provide additional support to small businesses by:
Reopening the Paycheck Protection Program to allow small businesses to benefit from the $146 billion still available in the program, including the ability for particularly hard-hit businesses to apply for a second loan.
Making improvements to the Paycheck Protection Program sought specifically by 8th District small businesses, to serve the smallest businesses and struggling nonprofits, providing hard-hit businesses with second loans, and a simplified forgiveness process for smaller loans.
Expanding the PPP program to make nonprofits of all types and sizes now eligible.
Including targeted assistance for the struggling restaurant industry, as well as independent live venue operators.
Put more money into testing to help further open the economy, safely:
Supporting testing, tracing and treatment, through $75 billion for coronavirus testing, contact tracing and isolation measures.
Including $28 billion for procurement, distribution and education campaigns for a safe and effective vaccine.
Start the process of bringing our medical supply chain back to the U.S.:
Includes six provisions from Slotkin's Made in America Medical Supply Chain Initiative, bipartisan legislation she has introduced to reduce America's dependence on China and other foreign sources of critical medical supplies and equipment. Those provisions would:
Require that contents of the Strategic National Stockpile of medical supplies and equipment are in good working order and regularly maintained.
Require a report to Congress on every request sent to the Strategic National Stockpile and details on the outcome of every request.
Require development of clear, transparent guidelines on how to request items from the stockpile and for future communications with the states.
Require a Government Accountability Office study on the feasibility of charging user fees for certain items that are distributed from the stockpile and later sold.
Create a $500m supply chain flexibility manufacturing pilot, which would increase manufacturing of critical supplies like PPE in America, by allowing the stockpile to partner directly with manufacturers to expand production capacity across the country, replenish existing supplies, and strengthen these critical supply chains
Allow the stockpile to sell items out of its inventory to other federal agencies. This authority will allow the SNS to make more efficient use of the funding Congress provides, while simultaneously allowing it to ensure that expiring items don't go to waste.
Provide funding for vital services and to exercise our rights:
$15 billion to expand broadband internet access, an important provision for rural areas of the 8th District. This money will go to help schools and libraries to purchase internet connectivity, hotspots and "connected devices" like tablets for students to facilitate remote learning throughout the length of the public health emergency.
Funding to address lost revenue at the U.S. Postal Service to ensure it can continue serving Americans.
$3.6 billion for grants to states to ensure they can hold safe federal elections, including for vote-by-mail, so that voters do not have to choose between their personal safety and exercising their democratic rights.
Give options to those who may lose their healthcare:
Preserves health coverage, protecting Americans losing their employer-provided health insurance by making unemployed Americans automatically receive the maximum ACA subsidy on the exchanges, as well as a special enrollment period in the ACA exchanges for uninsured Americans.
Strengthens food security:
Increases SNAP benefits by 15 percent through September 2021, lifts mandatory work requirements for one year, allows households to purchase hot foods using SNAP benefits, and includes other provisions to provide flexibility or regulatory relief.
Provides targeted relief for farmers and producers impacted by the crisis.