U.S. Senator Bennet Applauds House Passage of Latest Bipartisan Coronavirus Relief Package
Package Will Now Head to President’s Desk to be Signed into Law
Denver – Today, Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet released the statement below following House passage of the latest Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) relief package, a nearly $500 billion plan to provide additional support for small businesses, hospitals, and testing as Americans continue to weather the economic fallout of the virus. The legislation will now head to the president’s desk where it is expected to be signed into law.
“Colorado and our country are facing a once-in-a-century public health crisis that has brought the economy to a screeching halt and turned our lives upside down. This bipartisan agreement will provide much-needed additional support to small businesses, hospitals, and efforts to ramp up testing and contact tracing. We fought hard to secure funding in this package for unbanked and underserved small businesses and nonprofits, dedicated support for rural health clinics, and resources to help ramp up testing and contact tracing.
“While this is certainly a step in the right direction, I’m disappointed that the agreement doesn’t include specific funding to help struggling rural hospitals or funding for state, tribal, and local governments, which face revenue shortfalls that could jeopardize essential programs for public health and safety. There is bipartisan support for both of these efforts, and there is no reason why they shouldn’t be included in a future relief package.
“I will continue to work closely with Governor Polis, our mayors, county commissioners, public health agencies, and Colorado’s Congressional Delegation to ensure communities across the state have the support they need during this crisis.”
Like the CARES Act, this agreement is the result of bipartisan negotiations with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and the Trump Administration. Initially, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) tried to sidestep negotiations and pass legislation that only included funding for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), while ignoring the calls from Bennet and Senate Democrats to strengthen support for small businesses, hospitals, and testing efforts.
Bennet fought to secure Colorado’s priorities in the final package. These include:
- Funding for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP): Bennet supported additional funding for small businesses, including dedicated funding to serve unbanked and underserved small businesses and nonprofits—especially rural, minority, and women- owned businesses. Thirty billion of the PPP funds will assist Community Development Financial Institutions, Minority Depository Institutions, and community-focused lending intermediaries. As the PPP program continues, Bennet will keep pushing for all affected businesses to have access to this critical lifeline.
- Funding for the Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL): Bennet fought to include additional funding for EIDL, the longer-term, low-interest loans for businesses affected by the economic fallout from COVID-19. EIDL has been oversubscribed, and this additional funding will help the program meet more of the overwhelming demand.
- Funding to Sustain the Health Care System: Bennet pressed for the deal to include additional funding to support hospitals and other providers on the front lines, including $225 million for rural health clinics. This funding will provide much-needed relief for expenses and lost revenue of hospitals and health care providers across Colorado. It also includes funding for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Inspector General for oversight of the health care funds.
- Funding to Ramp Up Testing and Coordinate a Testing Plan: Bennet pushed for the agreement to include funding for research, development, and expansion of testing. New funding in the agreement can be used to support state, local, and tribal public health entities’ efforts to ramp up and coordinate molecular, antigen, and serological testing and contact tracing needed to address the virus as communities transition from stay-at-home orders. This bill will help advance the goal of universal testing. The administration will be required to establish a COVID-19 strategic testing plan in 30 days, including how it plans to increase domestic testing capacity, testing supplies, and address disparities in all communities.