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On the Record: COVID-19 Response

Written by Press Release

May 25, 2020

Here’s a round-up of some of my public comments about the new coronavirus (COVID-19), including how my colleagues in the Senate and I are responding to this crisis:

Few events in history have been as challenging as the COVID-19 pandemic. Agriculture makes up one-fourth of Arkansas’ GDP and has hit the state’s rural economy especially hard. As a member of both the Agriculture and Appropriations Committees in the Senate, Boozman approves of additional funds to support the industry but is keeping an eye on the additional financial burden. He supports the Agriculture Department and Secretary Sonny Perdue’s guidelines for dispersing CFAP funds, is in favor of increased annual limits for the Commodity Credit Corporation, and believes the silver lining of the pandemic may be heightened efforts to improve rural broadband service.

U.S. Senators John Boozman and Tom Cotton—along with Congressmen Rick Crawford, French Hill, Steve Womack and Bruce Westerman—applauded the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for awarding Arkansas over $5 million in funding to expand access to COVID-19 testing in rural communities.

“Rural America must not be left behind as we work to expand coronavirus testing across the nation. These communities are vital to a successful economic restart, especially in a largely rural state such as Arkansas. These funds will help state officials carry out their plan to reopen Arkansas in a safe manner,” members said.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced Tuesday the state of Arkansas would receive $78 million to expand its capacity for COVID-19.

The funding, according to a news release from U.S. Senator John Boozman’s office, is part of $11 billion from HHS to “support nationwide testing for COVID-19 and the reopening of America.”

“Expanding our testing capability is necessary to combating the spread of COVID-19 and safely getting Arkansans back to work. These funds will be used to respond to this public health emergency and ensure individuals who have been in contact with infected patients are aware of their risk.”

The interview program hosted by Timeless 106.1 KFFB’s General Manager Bob Connell featured U.S. Senator John Boozman talking about National Police Week, the senator’s visit to the White House about flexibility in the use of CARES Act funding designated for states and his service on the Congressional Task Force for Reopening America. 

In this Congressional interview, KASU News Director Johnathan Reaves talks with U.S. Senator John Boozman about the federal disaster delcaration approved after the Jonesboro tornado and the latest with COVID-19 response.

U.S. Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., is backing legislation that would make more newspapers and broadcasters eligible for covid-19 economic assistance, he said Wednesday. The lawmaker from Rogers signed on as an original co-sponsor of the Local News and Emergency Information Act of 2020, authored by U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash.

The goal of the legislation is to save jobs as well as local news outlets, Boozman said.

“This is a program that is not a solution to the problems we’re having but it is somewhat of a lifeline to many industries,” Boozman said of the Paycheck Protection Program.

Senators from both parties are backing the bill.

“Hopefully we can get this done,” Boozman said. “I think there probably will be another round of help, and so we will be working hard to include this in a bigger bill.”

Senators are certain a $3 trillion coronavirus bill poised to pass the House on Friday will die, as Republicans identify poison pills and some Democrats admit it’s an opening shot for negotiations.

“The thing I don’t like is the $3 trillion price tag,” said Sen. John Boozman (R-Ark.).“Hopefully there are some things where we can find some common ground. This is a time where Republicans and Democrats need to be working together to solve some very real problems the nation is facing.”

U.S. Sen. John Boozman (R-AR) is among a group of lawmakers urging Congressional leaders to include $2 billion in the next coronavirus relief package to help health care providers expand telehealth services by improving their access to broadband.

Telehealth allows health care providers to treat patients safely without putting themselves or their patients at risk of contracting COVID-19 and has been recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, many providers – especially in rural and hard-to-reach communities – lack the resources to handle this increase in demand for telehealth services.

“The Covid-19 Crisis has greatly accelerated the usage and demand for virtual health care visits,” Dr. David Hunton, Mercy Fort Smith Clinic president, wrote the Times Record in response to Boozman’s announcement. “At one point recently, our providers were “seeing” almost half of their patients virtually. The demand for this type of visit as well as for nontraditional access times and for online scheduling will not dissipate and I believe will continue to increase. The crisis has served as a catalyst for change, and much of this will be to the benefit of patient as well as to our providers.

The Arkansas Department of Energy and Environment will receive $8,206,119 from HHS’s Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), U.S. Senators John Boozman and Tom Cotton along with Congressmen Rick Crawford, French Hill, Steve Womack and Bruce Westerman announced in a release. 

These funds were appropriated by Congress under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which provided $900 million in supplemental LIHEAP funding to help “prevent, prepare for, or respond to” home energy needs surrounding the national emergency created by the coronavirus, according to the statement. 

“The CARES Act takes a comprehensive approach to help Arkansans struggling from the economic toll of this crisis. This funding will help keep families safe and healthy by assisting with energy costs during their time of need,” members said.

The interview program hosted by Timeless 106.1 KFFB’s General Manager Bob Connell featured U.S. Senator John Boozman talking about critical funding for hospitals and colleges in Arkansas, what it’s like in D.C. right now and what is on the radar for the Senate.

Earlier this week, a national group called the Small Business Majority released criticism on the equity of the Paycheck Protection Program’s (PPP) response to the coronavirus economic impact.

The Arkansas Delegation offered its response Thursday evening, saying although the PPP had “shortcomings” it has provided more than 36,000 PPP loans totaling over $3.3 billion. The program is also known as the Payroll Protection Program and now commonly known as PPP.

“Despite some shortcomings, PPP has helped small businesses in Arkansas — more than 36,000 PPP loans totaling over $3.3 billion have been administered,” the Arkansas Delegation told the Times Record in a group response. “Congress specifically carved out $60 billion for small lenders — and that does not preclude them from using the regular pot of funding as well. Small lenders have approved nearly 950,000 loans totaling around $58.2 billion. Congress will conduct aggressive oversight to ensure loans are repaid if criteria aren’t met. If small businesses need help with PPP or the other emergency funding programs i.e. EIDL, small business debt relief, they should contact our offices.

U.S. Senators John Boozman and Tom Cotton—along with Congressmen Rick Crawford, French Hill, Steve Womack and Bruce Westerman—applauded the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for awarding federal funds to Arkansas health centers for expanded coronavirus testing.      

“These health centers play a critical role in keeping Arkansans healthy. Providing additional resources to expand testing is key to identifying patients infected with this disease and preventing its spread in the community. These funds will help achieve the governor’s goal of conducting 60,000 coronavirus tests in the state during May,” members said.

U.S. Senators John Boozman and Tom Cotton, along with Congressmen Rick Crawford, French Hill, Steve Womack, and Bruce Westerman made the announcement on May 7.

“Providing resources to safeguard law enforcement and public safety officers is critical to the health and the wellbeing of Arkansas. This funding will allow law enforcement agencies across the state to better protect frontline workers while continuing to provide valuable services to families in our communities,” members said.

U.S. Senators John Boozman and Tom Cotton — along with Congressmen Rick Crawford, French Hill, Steve Womack and Bruce Westerman – applauded the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for awarding $8,190,367 in Community Development Block Grant funding to Arkansas to support the prevention, preparation and response to the coronavirus pandemic.

“This funding provides additional relief to the state and local governments as they respond to the increasing needs of communities during this pandemic. These resources will help better serve Arkansans in need,” members said.

U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) joined a bipartisan group of his colleagues calling on the administration to raise the Paycheck Protection Program’s (PPP) non-payroll forgiveness cap from 25 percent to 50 percent. 

PPP loans can be used toward payroll, utilities, mortgage interest and rent payments, and can be forgiven when at least 75 percent of the loan is spent on payroll. In a letter to U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Small Business Administrator Jovita Carranza, the senators request that threshold be reduced to 50 percent.

“The 25 percent threshold is problematic for several business sectors, especially those whose mortgage, rent, or utility payments constitute a large portion of fixed monthly expenses. If they are unable to cover these expenses, they will have to decide between keeping their doors open, at personal financial risk, or closing shop and laying off employees,” the senators wrote.“These are businesses that will not recover. Such an outcome would result in mass layoffs that would shift more Americans onto unemployment, presenting significant long-term costs to families, businesses, and states.”

Arkansas’ Congressional Delegation announced that $14.573 million in an additional round of coronavirus relief funding for Arkansas’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and institutions serving low-income students to help ensure learning continues during the coronavirus crisis.

“The Department of Education quickly awarded CARES Act funding to higher education institutions across the state to aid students impacted during this crisis. This additional funding recognizes the unique challenges facing HBCUs and institutions serving low-income students. These institutions play a vital role in transforming lives and make Arkansas’s communities stronger,” the delegation said.

The interview program hosted by Timeless 106.1 KFFB’s General Manager Bob Connell featured US Senator John Boozman talking about how the CARES Act is delivering critical funding to Arkansas, serving on the President’s congressional task force for the reopening of America in the wake of COVID-19, the food supply chain and the Senate’s expected return to session.

U.S. Senators John Boozman and Tom Cotton—along with Congressmen Rick Crawford, French Hill, Steve Womack and Bruce Westerman—applauded the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for awarding Arkansas Public Housing Agencies $4.7 million in funding to support the prevention, preparation and response to the coronavirus pandemic in public housing.

“Providing these resources is necessary to supporting ongoing efforts to combat the coronavirus in Arkansas. These investments will protect the lives of vulnerable individuals in our state,” members said.

U.S. Senators John Boozman and Tom Cotton—along with Congressmen Rick Crawford, French Hill, Steve Womack and Bruce Westerman—applauded the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for awarding additional federal funds to hospitals and health care providers across Arkansas to help facilitate the coronavirus response in our communities. 

“We are pleased that HHS has continued to quickly provide much-needed aid to medical providers in Arkansas. Every provider has been impacted by this crisis and the effort to ensure that no one misses out on relief is greatly appreciated,” the delegation said.

Arkansas U.S. Sens. John Boozman and Tom Cotton — along with U.S. Reps. Rick Crawford, French Hill, Steve Womack and Bruce Westerman — applauded the U.S. Department of Education for awarding emergency relief funds to support continued learning for Arkansas students.

“The closure of all public schools in Arkansas for the remainder of the school year is one of the biggest disruptions to everyday life the coronavirus crisis has brought upon families in our state,” the Arkansas lawmakers said in a joint news release. “This funding … will help the state overcome some of the challenges our educators, students and parents are facing as a result.”

U.S. Senators John Boozman and Tom Cotton along with Congressmen Rick Crawford, French Hill, Steve Womack and Bruce Westerman praise the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for awarding $10.6 million in federal funds to support rural communities and further develop testing and prevention capabilities against the coronavirus crisis in Arkansas, said a press release from the delegates.

“Communities and medical providers across the state will benefit from these resources as we continue to fight the coronavirus and look toward a future of resuming daily activities,” members said.

“The Paycheck Protection Program is an important tool to help Arkansas small businesses remain operational during the coronavirus pandemic and viable in the future. The restoration of funding to this program will support workers and small businesses in the Natural State and all across America. I urge the House of Representatives to quickly approve this funding so we can provide immediate relief to small businesses facing financial hardships,” Boozman said in a news release.

U.S. Senator John Boozman is among a bipartisan group that on Sunday urged Senate leadership to include local news media outlets in future coronavirus relief legislation. 

Boozman, R-Arkansas, along with senators Maria Cantwell, D-Washington, John Kennedy, R-Louisiana, and Amy Klobuchar, D-Minnesota, signed a letter asking for local newspapers and television and radio stations to be eligible for small business assistance under the Paycheck Protection Program.

“Local news is essential to keeping us informed during this crisis. Reporters are on the frontlines delivering details the public needs and deserves. At a time when we need this communication more than ever, media outlets are struggling with financial losses as a result of decreased advertising leading to decisions to downsize, furlough workers or close. Ensuring the viability of local news outlets is critical to maintaining access to information,” Boozman said via a spokesperson Tuesday.

The interview program hosted by Timeless 106.1 KFFB’s General Manager Bob Connell featured US Senator John Boozman talking about Economic Impact Payments, relief to agriculture, The CALL, broadband, distribution of funds for businesses, workers and families, child care support to health care workers industry, and heroes.

“Those members of Congress are definitely hearing from their constituents that they need to pass this,” he said. Members of Arkansas’ congressional delegation have also been diligent in staying in touch throughout the emergency.

“There is an immediate need to increase funding to the program because the money has run out, but there are still many small businesses in need of assistance,” [Senator John Boozman, R-Rogers] said in a statement. “I am confident Congress will approve additional resources to support its continuation.”

U.S. Senators John Boozman and Tom Cotton along with Congressmen Rick Crawford, French Hill, Steve Womack, and Bruce Westerman applauded the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for awarding federal funds to provide child care support to health care workers, first responders, and other essential personnel playing critical roles during the coronavirus crisis. 

The funding totaling $41,462,912 will be released to the Arkansas Department of Human Services to support efforts to provide assistance to child care providers in order to financially support them during the public health crisis.

“These much-needed funds will help Arkansas airports continue operations, as well as support their employees and the businesses that rely on air transportation. These grants will ensure the viability of our airports once we’ve beaten the coronavirus,” noted a joint statement from Arkansas’ Congressional delegation – U.S. Sens. John Boozman and Tom Cotton, R-Ark.; and U.S. Reps. Rick Crawford, R-Jonesboro, French Hill, R-Little Rock, Bruce Westerman, R-Hot Springs, and Steve Womack, R-Rogers.

U.S. Senators John Boozman and Tom Cotton of Arkansas have joined colleagues to encourage the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to provide Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding to help sustain aquaculture producers in the Arkansas.

The senators recommended that USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue use $9.5 billion in the CARES Act and his authority under the Commodity Credit Corporation as well as the authority to purchase excess inventory to support this industry 

The funds, totaling more than $100 million, come from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which became law last month with the support of the Arkansas congressional delegation. The CARES Act provides nearly $14 billion to support postsecondary students and institutes nationwide.

“The CARES Act is continuing to deliver necessary funds to help Americans during this crisis. These emergency funds will aid students impacted during this crisis as their schools have been forced to close and many have lost jobs,” members said.

U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) has urged Senate leadership to expand eligibility for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) to public hospitals.

The Small Business Administration administers the PPP loans authorized in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. For-profit and non-profit hospitals are eligible for access to funds, however public-owned or partially public-owned hospitals, including seven in Arkansas, are currently prevented from accessing PPP assistance. 

will support healthcare-related expenses or lost revenue attributable to coronavirus and ensure uninsured Americans can get the testing and treatment they need without receiving a surprise bill from a provider.

This is the first wave of funding awarded to health care providers from the $100 billion appropriated by the CARES Act. It is being distributed immediately proportionate to providers’ share of Medicare fee-for-service reimbursements in 2019. This quick dispersal of funds will provide relief to both providers in coronavirus hotspot areas and those providers who are struggling to keep their doors open due to cancelled elective services.

“Not only are these hospitals and providers on the frontline of the coronavirus fight, but they are struggling like any other business as a result of the pandemic. We are grateful that Secretary Alex Azar recognizes the need to get these funds out swiftly so that these critical facilities can remain operating when our communities need them most,” the delegation said.

U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) joined a bipartisan group of his colleagues to urge the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to consider the needs of rural hospitals and those with high percentages of Medicaid and Medicare patients as HHS distributes the $100 billion healthcare fund included in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. 

In a letter to HHS Secretary Alex Azar and Deputy Secretary Eric Hargan, the senators request an equitable distribution of funding from the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund for small rural hospitals, critical access hospitals and other rural providers engaged in responding to the coronavirus pandemic.

U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR)—a senior member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry—praised the work of the Arkansas agricultural industry as farmers and ranchers continue to provide a safe and abundant supply of food despite challenges facing the industry.

“Americans depend on our nation’s farmers to grow the food, fuel and fiber we depend on daily. That need becomes much more pronounced in times of crisis which creates additional strain on those who provide the goods and supplies necessary for everyday life,” Boozman wrote. The senator also honored the Arkansas agricultural heroes who are “rising to the occasion” in a video message.

U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) signed onto a letter to U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue urging the Trump administration to ensure the continuity of our country’s food supply and support rural areas during the coronavirus pandemic by providing needed relief to farmers.

“Americans always depend on our nation’s farmers to grow the food, fuel, and fiber that we all need, but that reliance becomes much more pronounced in times of crisis,” the senators wrote. “To provide additional support for those whose operations are being affected by the coronavirus, we urge you to consider making emergency measures such as deadline extensions, loan payment deferrals, payment forbearance, and a full suspension of all current and pending foreclosure actions effective for the duration of the pandemic and subsequent economic recovery.”

In a joint news release Friday, most members of Arkansas’ congressional delegation urged haste on the part of the U.S. Department of Labor to help Arkansas and other states administer expanded unemployment benefits and other parts of Congress’ covid-19 legislative package.

“As many businesses close to adhere to social distancing policies, employees and owners of those companies are experiencing hardship from lost income,” U.S. Reps. Rick Crawford, French Hill, Bruce Westerman and Steve Womack wrote in a letter joined by U.S. Sen. John Boozman, all Republicans.

While states are working on unemployment claims on their end, the federal department hasn’t yet issued guidelines for payments to the self-employed, “gig” workers and other classes of wage earners, they said.

U.S. Sen. John Boozman this week applauded the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) implementation of the Paycheck Protection Program, which authorizes lending institutions to quickly make loans to small businesses to help them remain operational during the coronavirus outbreak.

U.S. Senators John Boozman and Tom Cotton—along with Congressmen Rick Crawford, French Hill, Steve Womack and Bruce Westerman—applauded the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for awarding federal funds to municipalities across Arkansas, as well as the Arkansas Economic Development Commission (AEDC), to help facilitate the coronavirus response in our communities. 

The grants, totaling over $23.6 million, come from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which recently became law with the support of the Arkansas delegation.

The majority of the funds come from HUD’s Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program, which can be used by Arkansas communities to make improvements to public facilities that are necessary to the COVID-19 response, support businesses to increase economic development and provide increased public services during the outbreak.

The CARES Act allocated $5 billion to the CDBG program to help communities prevent, prepare for and respond to the coronavirus. This is the first round of CDBG grants released and additional funding will be made available on a rolling basis.

“Our communities need help addressing the severe, complex struggles presented by the coronavirus pandemic. We appreciate how quickly Secretary Ben Carson and his team at HUD have acted to award these grants. These funds are critical to overcoming the challenges our communities are facing,” the delegation said.

U.S. Sen. John Boozman (R-AR) is warning Arkansans to be aware of coronavirus-related scams as the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reports an increase in complaints of fraud and nationwide losses of $4.77 million to consumers.

“Scammers and con artists are preying on fears Arkansans have related to the coronavirus, and are using this crisis to steal our money and personal information. It’s important to remain vigilant and learn how to recognize and identify schemes scammers use to avoid becoming a victim,” Boozman said in a news release.

Boozman has published the following notice to his website, along with other resources and information related to the coronavirus

“Over 99 percent of Arkansas businesses are small businesses, and perhaps no one has been impacted more by the economic fallout caused by the coronavirus. The Paycheck Protection Program provides critical aid that will allow small businesses to stay in operation and keep employees on the payroll as we all weather this storm. There is an urgent need for these funds, and I encourage Arkansas businesses to apply for this assistance,”

The $349 billion dollar program under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act was passed by congress and signed by President Donald Trump last week. It provides low-interest loans to small businesses to use for payroll, mortgage interest, rent and utilities, with a portion of the loan eligible for forgiveness.

Other highlights of the Paycheck Protection Program include being retroactive from Feb. 15, so employers can rehire recently laid-off employees through June 30. Additionally, eligible recipients may qualify for a loan up to $10 million and loan payments will be deferred for six months.

“The resourcefulness of Arkansans has been incredible to see. Faced with these unprecedented events, Arkansans have responded the only way they know how, with hard work, determination, kindness and compassion. From individual citizens to the private sector, we are seeing everyone chip in and do their part, to ensure our state comes out of the other side of this better than ever. While the state and its citizens are doing everything in their power to address this problem, we still need your help,”

Nineteen students returned to the country with help from the State Department, according to U.S. Sen. John Boozman’s office. With a pandemic raging, bringing Arkansans home is sometimes a challenge, the Republican from Rogers said in an interview.

 “We have people stuck all over the world,” Boozman said. “It’s been difficult because some of these countries have just shut down, period. The good news is that our State Department is doing a very, very good job in being responsive to us and responsive to our citizens,” Boozman said.

We also have to create a path to economic recovery while helping individuals and families through this crisis. Americans can’t go to work. Businesses are unable to operate. Individuals are not getting paychecks. Not only do we have to help our fellow Americans through these challenging times, but we also have to make sure that they have jobs when we begin to return some normalcy to our lives.

That is the aim of the CARES Act. The magnitude of this crisis requires us to think big and act big. The CARES Act puts big ideas into action. We will get through this. We have to look after each other every step of the way until then. 

U.S. Sen. Boozman said officials should listen to medical experts, such as Fauci, before easing the restrictions. “The people that are guiding us, looking at the data, if they say it’s OK to do that, then we need to go down that path. If not, then we need to listen to the people that know best that are working very, very hard to keep our families and communities safe,” the Republican from Rogers said.

“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.”

U.S. Sen. John Boozman of Arkansas expressed optimism Thursday 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 in a news release.

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.

We tried to address a number of different things. The primary thing that is on all of our minds is defeating the virus. And as a result, we’ve placed a lot more emphasis, a lot more money on hospitals – giving them the resources. They’re become the front line in treating the virus. We’ve also put a number of resources toward finding a vaccine, and then also finding a treatment that’s effective. Telehealth. All of these different things. Really trying to think outside of the box so we can get people seen and treated in an efficient way.

We’re trying to provide relief for families. Part of that program is checks: $1,200 for individuals, $2,400 for families, $500 for children. What this is designed to do is give immediate relief. This isn’t designed to stimulate or whatever. This is making it such that families that have lost their jobs or furloughed or whatever – simply don’t have the money to pay the rent, pay their car payments, all those kind of things. So this is trying to provide some immediate help in that regard. We’ve increased unemployment insurance significantly. Again, trying to get people by during this very, very tough time if they find themselves without a job. We delayed student loan interest for six months.

The other aspect of the bill was about our job creators, our businesses. Once we defeat the virus, we want to have a job to go back to. This helps prop up those businesses, support them during this difficult time. Small business loans can use these for payroll, rent, utilities. If they use them for those, these will actually be forgivable.

U.S. Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., urged members of both parties Tuesday to put their differences aside and focus on the needs of their constituents, warning that additional delays in passing a coronavirus relief package could further undermine public confidence and injure the economy.

In a Senate speech, he emphasized the importance of bipartisanship in the face of a national coronavirus crisis…stressed the importance of a swift response. “We simply cannot afford to wait,” the lawmaker from Rogers warned his colleagues.

Boozman, who won in a special election to become a state U.S. representative in November 2001, noted that he arrived in Washington shortly after Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. “It was a very anxious time in the Capitol,” he recalled. With a common threat looming, elected officials joined forces, he said. “Every one of my colleagues sought to find ways to work together to move major pieces of legislation that helped to return a sense of normalcy that Americans so desperately sought in the wake of the attacks,” Boozman said. “Given all that is at stake right now, for the life of me, I’ve not been able to understand why we’ve been struggling to do the same now.”

Boozman made his comments as Senate leaders were working to craft a compromise coronavirus package. In his speech, Boozman acknowledged the latest developments. “Thankfully, the partisanship that has dominated these past few days has subsided,” he said. “It appears that we can now move forward after this unnecessarily delay.” Arkansans, Boozman said, are suffering.

“Many small businesses in Arkansas, large cities and small towns alike, are being forced to close during this crisis, both to protect public health, to protect their families, and because of a shrinking customer base as customers are urged to stay home to reduce the spread of the disease,” he said. “The unexpected closure for small-business owners, through no fault of their own, may prevent many of them from reopening by the time that this is behind us.”

Rather than kick-starting the economy, the aid would simply provide a lifeline, Boozman suggested. “This is not a stimulus plan. It’s an existence plan. We have to pass this bill,” he said. “Americans have lost faith in many of their institutions. This is a defining moment. We have a chance to restore some of the confidence that has been lost by putting the needs of the nation over the wishes of the political class,” he said.

“Americans are looking forward to Washington for leadership right now. This is a true test,” he said. “Let’s pass this bill and show that we can rise up to the massive challenge before our nation.”

There are others doing heroic work as well, according to U.S. Sen. John Boozman. “I’m so thankful that we’ve got men and women that are in the health care professions that have stepped up, in their case literally putting their lives on the line,” the Republican from Rogers said. Arkansans who steer the supply trucks, stock the shelves and scan the groceries are also performing essential services, he said.

 

Others who follow the advice of public health officials are also playing a crucial role, Boozman said. “Social distancing, keeping our hands out of our mouths, washing our hands. If we’ll do that we’ll keep the curve lower so that everybody’s not going to get sick all at the same time and truly overwhelm the system,” he said. If Arkansans follow the experts’ advice, the system can withstand the challenge and many lives can be saved, he said. If the advice is ignored, “things spiral out of control very, very quickly,” Boozman said.

 

While Arkansans take steps to lessen the number of victims, lawmakers must take steps to shore up the economy, he said. “I think the economy is in very very bad shape. I don’t know anybody that’s really not being affected by this,” he said. Boozman said he hopes the Senate can pass legislation Monday to help American businesses and workers and that the House will take it up quickly. “The longer we wait, the more difficult the problem is to solve,” he said. “This is truly a national emergency.”

Congress is taking steps to ensure resources are available to state and local governments to mitigate the spread of the disease, treat those infected and support research to find a vaccine. In early March, we passed a comprehensive package to help the local, state and federal governments meet the growing challenges. We also recently passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, a package specifically designed to provide support for hardworking Americans and families who are facing financial challenges due to this outbreak.

 

We all have a role to play to minimize the challenges this virus poses to us, our loved ones and our fellow Americans. We must follow the guidance and recommendations of our medical experts to reduce the risk of infection, including frequent handwashing, covering our mouths with a flexed elbow when sneezing or coughing and practicing social distancing. In recent days, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has expanded its recommendations to limit interactions with others by avoiding public gatherings and encouraging staying at home whenever possible. Suppliers are urging Americans to not overbuy during trips to the grocery stores, as the supply chain is strong and the goods consumers need will remain available. These are small but important things we can do to make a big difference in this fight.

Congress has passed over $8 billion in assistance for our public health agencies and also just approved a package that includes free testing, paid sick and family leave, unemployment insurance enhancements and more, while also working on legislation to provide more direct relief to America’s families and businesses.

“We are facing an unprecedented public health challenge. We must deliver necessary resources to combat the coronavirus and support hardworking Americans and families who are facing financial challenges due to this outbreak. Preventing the spread of this disease remains a priority and we know there is more that needs to be done. In the coming days the Senate will be taking further action to craft and pass a comprehensive bill to provide additional assistance directly to the American people and stabilize the economy,” Boozman said

Sen. John Boozman (R-Arkansas) said the first package before lawmakers dealt with the medical community, while a second bill would seek to help people impacted economically.

 

Boozman said he supports the Trump administration’s approach on the issue and that the next two weeks are very critical.

 

”We don’t want this spiraling out of control. Did an interview about a week ago there was 500 affect then. We’re at 6,500. The question is a week from now, are we going to have 10 times that, are we going to have 65,000 and then 10 times that. What we’re working really have to do is bend that curve down so we don’t have a real spike that would overwhelm the hospitals,” Boozman said.

Congress will move swiftly to aid American workers, a move aimed at averting coronavirus-related economic calamity, Sen. John Boozman said Tuesday. “The effort is to try and get money into people’s hands as quickly as possible,” the Republican from Rogers said. The consequences, he said, would be felt around the globe.

 

The strain, already, has been substantial, he said. The “complete business infrastructure of our country” is coping with an unprecedented challenge, he said. “Every segment of society right now is being affected. There are so many people now that are finding themselves either underemployed or unemployed, and as a result of that they have a liquidity problem. They can’t pay their bills. They can’t pay their rent,” he said.

 

The list of economic casualties is already long. Small businesses, nonprofit groups and churches are all suffering, he said. Even hospitals have been hammered, he said. “I think the next two or three weeks are critical,” he said.

 

Boozman praised Gov. Asa Hutchinson for his leadership thus far and stressed the importance of preparing for what lies ahead.

 

“I think this is the biggest challenge, the biggest thing that’s facing our country since I’ve been born and a lot’s gone on during those years,” the 69-year-old senator said. “This a societal thing that I think really requires us to think big and act big.”

 

Congress will spend what it takes to address the crisis, Boozman said. “Money’s not the object the right now; it’s what’s the best policy,” he said.

Boozman, KASU’s News Director Johnathan Reaves discusses the latest response to COVID-19, its financial impacts on the region and the country, and economic relief for Americans.

“I think the only comparison to this is World War II, in the sense of it being not only in our country but just a global situation where everyone is pulling out all the stops to do the best we can to protect individuals, protect families and communities,” said Sen. John Boozman (R-Ark.)

Americans must prepare, as quickly as possible, for coronavirus outbreaks in this country, Arkansas’ U.S. senators said Monday. They said they hope a widespread epidemic can be averted, but the economic damage from the virus will be unavoidable. Senators, briefed by top health officials Monday, said the threat is real.

 

“The message I took away is that this truly is a national emergency,” said U.S. Sen. John Boozman. “We definitely need to step up our efforts to make sure that we’re prepared.”

 

The nation isn’t fully prepared for a widespread outbreak, and it may be hard to quickly obtain sufficient supplies, Boozman said. “When you look at the stockpiles that we have, things like testing kits, masks, ventilators, all of these things that, in many cases, keep the medical personnel safe, we simply don’t have enough,” Boozman said. “Much of the equipment that we need is sourced from China, and they’ve basically just said, ‘this is ours now.’ So it’s going to be difficult to procure it.”

 

The nation isn’t fully prepared for a widespread outbreak, and it may be hard to quickly obtain sufficient supplies, Boozman said.

 

“When you look at the stockpiles that we have, things like testing kits, masks, ventilators, all of these things that, in many cases, keep the medical personnel safe, we simply don’t have enough,” Boozman said. “Much of the equipment that we need is sourced from China, and they’ve basically just said, ‘this is ours now.’ So it’s going to be difficult to procure it.”

With Chinese factories idle, millions there are unable to work and global supply chains have been disrupted, Boozman said.

 

“This is already starting to have a significant effect on the economy,” he said.

Original article source: https://www.boozman.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/2020/5/what-they-are-saying-covid-19-response | Article may or may not reflect the views of KLEK 102.5 FM or The Voice of Arkansas Minority Advocacy Council

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