WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Adam Smith (D-Wash.) today released the following statement after the House passed the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act to provide funding for small businesses, hospitals and health workers, and testing in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak:
“The interim emergency relief bill passed by Congress will replenish desperately needed funds for small businesses and provide additional money to support our health care system. Democrats worked hard over the last two weeks to make significant improvements to this legislation from what was first proposed by Senate Republicans.
“The dire circumstances facing small businesses were made clear by how quickly funding for the Paycheck Protection Program and other small business programs were exhausted. The bill passed today will not only provide additional funding for these programs but strengthen them to better reach all small businesses. This bill will set aside money for businesses in underserved communities through Community Development Financial Institutions and minority depository institutions.
“The bill will also provide additional money to hospitals, providers, and medical professionals who are risking their lives every day to protect our communities. Hospitals and providers have faced a mounting financial burden responding to COVID-19. Funding from this bill will help ease this strain and help with purchasing additional personal protective equipment for their workers on the frontline.
“Lastly, it is especially important that this legislation devotes $25 billion to testing. Expanding our testing capacity is key to reopening the economy safely. States and the health care system cannot do this on their own. We were successful in requiring the Administration to develop a national testing strategy, including how we will increase testing capacity. Action from the federal government to take the lead in expanding testing across the U.S. is long overdue.
“This bill is far from perfect. We still need more funding for state, local, and tribal entities on the frontlines of COVID-19 who face extraordinarily difficult fiscal conditions. Individuals and families need to be further supported by expanding SNAP benefits, providing additional cash payments to the people, ensuring adequate protections for workers, and enhancing assistance for rent, mortgage, and utility payments. We also must fill the gaps in previous federal assistance by prioritizing support and eligibility for immigrants and making sure that vulnerable communities are not left behind in prevention and recovery efforts. As we pass this interim legislation, the House is working on the next relief package to provide comprehensive support to help combat the health and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.”