WASHINGTON- U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) expressed optimism that the Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act—historic legislation to help stabilize the economy and provide relief to Americans struggling in the wake of economic challenges due to the coronavirus outbreak—will give Arkansans “confidence they are going to make it through these challenging financial times.”
“Across the country we’ve seen mass layoffs and record numbers of Americans file for unemployment as people have been asked to stay home to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Hardworking Arkansans need confidence they are going to make it through these challenging financial times. The CARES Act delivers immediate assistance to workers and families, and support for small businesses. I urge members of the House of Representatives to swiftly pass this legislation,” Boozman said.
Boozman has talked with Arkansans from across the state who represent industries and hardworking individuals affected by the economic slowdown caused by the coronavirus. He brought those concerns to his colleagues as members finalized the Phase 3 relief package. As Chairman of the Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies (MilCon-VA) Appropriations Subcommittee, Boozman provided increased flexibility to Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) funding to allow the department to react appropriately to the evolving health crisis. He also advocated and supported additional funding for the Army and Air Force National Guard to ensure Arkansas Guardsmen have all the resources necessary to best support the state’s needs during this difficult time. In addition, he fought for rural communities by pushing for provisions to protect agricultural producers and airports in rural America that were included in the CARES Act.
The CARES Act includes provisions that:
Bolster Health Care Response to COVID-19
- Makes all COVID-19 tests free;
- Provides an influx of funding for hospitals and essential supplies:
o $11 billion for diagnostics, treatments and vaccines
o $16 billion for the Strategic National Stockpile;
- Allocates $4.3 billion for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
o $1.5 billion for state and local preparedness and response grants
o $500 million to improve public health surveillance;
- Allots $19.6 billion for veterans health care:
o $14.4 billion to support increased demand for healthcare services at VA facilities and through telehealth, including the purchase of medical equipment and supplies, testing kits, and personal protective equipment.
o Provides the VA with increased flexibility to react to the ever-changing situation and direct funding where it is needed most.
Provide Relief to Families:
- Provides checks directly to individuals and families:
o $1,200 for individuals and $2,400 for couples, means-tested and phased down for higher-earning individuals and couples
o $500 for each eligible child;
- Delays student loan payments and interest for up to six months without penalty to the student;
- Provides temporary expanded unemployment assistance, provides additional funding to states to administer increased unemployment assistance, and creates flexibilities such as waiving the “waiting week.”
Support Job Creators
- Allots $350 billion to the Small Business Administration (SBA) to make loans to small businesses to cover payroll costs and manage debts. The portion of the loan used for payroll, interest on mortgages, payment of rent or utilities can be eligible for loan forgiveness if certain criteria are met;
- Provides the Treasury Secretary the authority to issue up to $500 billion in loans and loan guarantees to eligible entities including businesses vital to national security, air carriers and cargo air carriers;
- Grants $265 million to Small Business Development Centers and Women’s Business Centers to provide technical assistance to small businesses.
Help Rural America
- Provides $14 billion toward replenishment of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Commodity Credit Corporation, which will allow USDA the flexibility to respond to farmers’ economic challenges;
- Provides $9.5 billion in emergency support for agricultural producers, including livestock producers impacted by COVID-19;
- Allocates $300 million for financial assistance to aquaculture businesses and other fishery related businesses;
- Permanently rescinds the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) interim final rule that would have negatively impacted poultry farmers trying to get SBA loans;
- Allocates $56 million to the Essential Air Service (EAS) program to maintain existing air service to rural communities. (Four Arkansas airports participate in the EAS program: Harrison, Hot Springs, El Dorado and Jonesboro);
- Provides $100 million for USDA’s ReConnect Program for grants to expand broadband service.
On Tuesday, Boozman spoke on the Senate floor urging his colleagues to advance the CARES Act. In addition, he helped secure $6.2 million to help Arkansas respond to the health emergency in Phase I legislation and supported the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, the Phase 2 package specifically designed to provide support for hardworking Americans and families who are facing financial challenges due to this outbreak.
Original article source: https://www.boozman.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/2020/3/boozman-delivers-critical-relief-for-arkansas-workers-families-and-small-businesses | Article may or may not reflect the views of KLEK 102.5 FM or The Voice of Arkansas Minority Advocacy Council