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What They Are Saying: COVID-19 Response

Written by Press Release

March 26, 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:

“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/2020/3/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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