Source: United States House of Representatives – Congresswoman Elise Stefanik (21st District of New York)
COVID-19 Updates and Information
For the most up-to-date information and resources about COVID-19, please visit my website here.
Voting to Replenish the Paycheck Protection Program, Provide Additional Funds to Hospitals, Expand COVID-19 Testing, Make Ag Businesses Eligible for EIDL Assistance
Yesterday, I voted to replenish the Paycheck Protection Program, provide additional funding for hospitals, fund EIDL small business disaster loans and grants, and fund expanded COVID-19 testing. Additionally, following my advocacy, this legislation gives agriculture businesses eligibility for EIDL assistance. This is phase four of Congress’ response to the COVID-19 crisis. The Paycheck Protection Program provided critical relief to many small businesses in the North Country, but many more are still in need of loans. The House once again came together to provide much-needed relief for the American people – small businesses, hardworking families, farmers, hospitals, and healthcare workers. This legislative package replenishes the PPP, provides additional funding for hospitals and further testing for COVID-19, and makes agriculture businesses eligible for EIDL assistance – a provision I called for weeks ago that is critical to the North Country. As always, I encourage constituents with questions and concerns to reach out to my office. Together, we will combat and ultimately beat COVID-19.
The Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act:
- Provides an additional $310 billion in PPP loans
- Provides an additional $10 billion for Emergency Economic Injury Disaster (EIDL) grants
- Appropriates an additional $50 billion for the Disaster Loans Program Account
- Allows agricultural enterprises with less than 500 employees to receive EIDL grants and loans
- Provides an additional $75 billion for reimbursement to hospitals and healthcare providers to support the need for COVID-19 related expenses and lost revenue
- Provides $25 billion for necessary expenses to research, develop, validate, manufacture, purchase, administer, and expand capacity for COVID-19 tests
Protect Yourself from Scams
Congress recently passed the CARES Act for COVID-19 relief to help individuals and businesses. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) have raised concerns about scammers and fraudsters that impersonate federal employees and ask you to verify personal account information in order to receive a payment. Here are some helpful security facts:
- The U.S. Government will not contact you about these payments – period.
- The U.S. Government will not ask you to verify payment information of any kind.
- The U.S. Government will not ask you to pay any fee or charge to receive payment.
- The U.S. Government will not offer to expedite your payment for a fee.
To protect your personal information:
- Hang up if you receive a telephone call from someone who claims to be from a government agency asking for verification of personal information.
- Ignore or delete it if you get a pop-up message, email or text that directs you to call a certain number or visit a website to verify personal information.
- Never reply to a phone number or use a website that is part of a suspicious call, pop-up or text message to verify personal information.
- Phishing emails are near-replica websites of a trusted or well-known institution such as your financial institution or a government agency. When in doubt, you should initiate contact through a known telephone number or website
Be diligent and ask yourself: Why would your financial institution or the government need to contact you for personal information to make or receive a payment—they already have it! Please do not hesitate to reach out to any one of my offices if you have questions or concerns.
Advocating for our Correctional Officers to Receive Continuation of Pay
I have been been in contact throughout the COVID-19 crisis with the families of Correctional Officers at FCI Ray Brook who have tested positive for COVID-19, but were denied their request for continuation of pay. I worked with the Department of Labor’s Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs to highlight that Correction’s Officers should be considered high-risk employment when filing claims under the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act, which simplifies the process for claims to get approved. After my advocacy, the Department of Labor worked with the Bureau of Prisons to address the issue, and concluded that the Correctional Officers continuation of pay claims will be approved. Our Correctional Officers have been working in high risk environments with exposure to COVID-19. I have consistently advocated for them and worked to secure this result at the federal level to ensure they receive their rightfully earned compensation. I will continue to work to provide relief to our Corrections and law enforcement communities and their families, many of whom have sacrificed their personal health and safety to protect our communities throughout this challenging time. Read more here.
Requesting Funding for School-Based Health Centers
This week, I sent a letter to House Leadership as well as members of the Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education requesting $100 million in funding for a new grant program within the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to support School-Based Health Centers (SBHC’s). Indefinite school closures have created a gap in health services as some SBHC’s that operate in school facilities have been forced to close. In rural areas, SBHC’s address the needs of adolescents and their families, especially when the nearest hospital or clinic can be located a county away with no public transportation. This letter outlines the need for more funding to support SBHC’s in New York, where many have lost revenue and been challenged with providing care during the COVID-19 pandemic. The letter has been signed by members of New York’s Congressional Delegation. Many communities in the North Country rely on SBHC’s to address their immediate primary and behavioral healthcare needs. Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, many of these centers have been forced to close or limit the services they provide. I am leading this effort, along with my New York colleagues, to urge leadership to include funding for these centers in the fourth federal stimulus package. Supporting our SBHC’s correlates directly to taking the burden off of our hospitals and community health centers, who have seen an unprecedented challenge during the COVID-19 outbreak. I will continue to advocate for community-based health centers and their unique needs. Read more here.
Supporting a Regional-Based Approach to Reopen the Economy
I have consistently advocated for a regional-based approach when it comes to reopening New York’s economy. I am pleased that New York State has recognized that the challenges and circumstances of the North Country are different than New York City when it comes to reopening our economy and getting people back to work. I believe our local county public health officials and hospitals will help guide these decisions. Additionally, in my role on President Trump’s Task Force to Reopen the Economy, I will be working with my bipartisan colleagues on this regional approach to ensure we balance both public health and the need to get people back to work safely. Read more here.
Resources for Small Businesses
This new loan program will offer significant relief to North Country small businesses by providing working capital to allow these businesses to keep operations running and people employed.
- Existing SBA lenders and new, approved lenders brought into the program will be able to offer these loans to eligible small businesses. This will allow businesses to access these loans through community banks and other qualifying lenders, putting the money in the hands of the businesses faster.
- New Loans under this program are eligible for a forgiveness if the business maintains payroll continuity from Feb. 15, 2020 through June 30, 2020. Qualifying businesses may request forgiveness on a loan used on payroll costs, mortgage interest, forgiveness on a loan used on payroll costs, mortgage interest, rent, and utility pay over an 8 week period.
The amount forgiven will be reduced proportionally by any reduction in employees retained compared to the prior year. This provides flexibility for businesses that re-hire workers that were previously laid off.
The SBA will guarantee 100% of loans provided at a 4% interest rate during the period from March 1, 2020 through December 31, 2020.
- All small businesses employing 500 or less employees (including 501(c)(3), sole proprietors, independent contractors, and self-employed individuals) that have been adversely impacted by COVID-19 would be eligible to receive a loan in an amount equal to the lesser of $10 million or 2.5x the average monthly payroll based on the prior year’s payroll.
- Qualifying small businesses may use these funds to cover: payroll costs, costs related to the continuation of healthcare benefits during periods of paid sick, medical, or family leave, and insurance premiums, employee salaries, commission, or similar compensations, payments of interest on any mortgage, rent, utilities, or interest on any other debt that was incurred before the covered period.
- This bill also increases the maximum loan amount for “Express Loans” from $350,000 to $1,000,000. “Express Loans” are expedited versions of the loans provided under Section 7(a) for which the turnaround time for a response to the application is given within 36 hours.
Tax Relief for Small Businesses
- This bill provides a refundable payroll tax credit for 50% of the wages paid to employees during the COVID-19 crisis for businesses that had to partially or fully close down, or those whose gross receipts decreased by over 50%.
- Employers with 100 or fewer full-time employees can receive the credit regardless of it they had to shut down. The credit counts for the first $10,000 of compensation paid per employee.
- Delivers short-term relief and liquidity to employers and the self-employed by allowing them to immediately defer payroll taxes and pay them over the next two years, with half due on Dec. 31, 2021, and the other half due on Dec. 31, 2022.
- Allows businesses to carry a net operating loss that occurred in 2018, 2019, or 2020 back five years and amend the prior year return, providing additional cash flow and liquidity.
- Helps businesses provide student loan repayments to their workers by allowing up to $5,250 in tax-free payments toward an employee’s student loans.
- Increases the amount of interest expenses businesses are allowed to deduct on their tax returns, up to a limit of 50 percent of their taxable income.
- Allows businesses to immediately write off the costs associated with facility improvements instead of having to depreciate these improvements over 39 years, which is particularly important for the hospitality industry and local supermarkets.
- Amplifies all the great work being done by American distilleries to help produce hand sanitizer by waiving the federal excise tax on alcohol used for this purpose.
County Public Health Resources
Clinton County: (518) 565-4840
Essex County: (518) 873-3514
Franklin County: (518) 481-1709
Fulton County: (518) 736-5720
Hamilton County: (518) 648-6497
Herkimer County: (315) 867-1176
Jefferson County: (315) 785-3000
Lewis County: (315) 376-5453
Saratoga County: (518) 584-7460
St. Lawrence County: (315) 386-2325
Warren County: (518) 761-6580
Washington County: (518) 746-2461
Introducing the Bipartisan Equity in Student Loan Relief Act
This week, I introduced the Equity in Student Loan Relief Act, a bipartisan bill that would extend the temporary relief from student loan payments to Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) borrowers who have been left behind. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act provided much-needed student loan relief during this global pandemic, suspending all monthly payments and interest accumulation for federally held student loans through September 30, 2020. However, about 7.2 million borrowers who took out loans under the FFEL program, which was discontinued in 2010, are ineligible to benefit from this temporary relief since their federal student loans are not held by the Department of Education. Rep. Lori Trahan (D-MA-3), Rep. Lloyd Smucker (R-PA-11), Rep. Alma Adams (D-NC-12), and Rep. Susie Lee (D-NV-3) are co-leading the bill. The Equity in Student Loan Relief Act directs the Department of Education make the interest payments for FFEL borrowers and enter into agreements with the current holders of FFEL loans to suspend student loan payments obligations, as well as cease all involuntary collections, through September 30, 2020. As provided for federally held loans in the CARES Act, each month a loan payment is suspended will still be counted as a payment for the purposes of loan forgiveness programs. The participating holders will notify borrowers of the changes within 15 days and provide at least six notices prior to the return to normal payment obligations. While the CARES Act lifted the weight of student loan payments from millions of Americans whose lives have been disrupted by the COVID-19 crisis, too many borrowers are still being left behind. All students who have federal student loans should have their monthly payments suspended, no matter which type of loan they have or when they borrowed the money. Our bipartisan bill is a major step towards achieving parity and will deliver relief to the over seven million borrowers under the old FFEL program. I will continue to work on a bipartisan basis to develop additional legislation that extends these benefits to the Perkins borrowers who are also in need of immediate relief. Read more here.
Urging Secretary Pompeo and Attorney General Barr to Bring China to the ICJ
This week, I sent a letter to Secretary Pompeo and Attorney General Barr urging them to bring a case against China to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for their cover-up of COVID-19, which has since caused nearly two hundred thousand deaths worldwide and has cost trillions of dollars. Specifically, China violated their agreement to abide by the 2005 International Health Regulations (IHR), which leaves them liable to legal action in the ICJ. The Communist Party of China knowingly withheld critical information on the threat of COVID-19, and thousands of people have died because of their attempt to cover-up the virus. I am joining my colleagues in urging Secretary Pompeo and Attorney General Barr to bring a case against China to the ICJ. The International Health Regulations – which China agreed to abide by – require countries to provide timely information to the WHO about public health emergencies in order to prevent global pandemics. China must be held accountable for the devastating loss of life they have caused by lying and intentionally suppressing critical facts needed to combat COVID-19 early on in this pandemic. Read more here.
In Case You Missed It: Weekly Media Round-up
In case you missed it, I have done various interviews and calls with local media over the past few weeks on coronavirus, its impact on seniors and small businesses, local farmers, prisons and corrections officers, local hospitals, the PPP program, the CARES Act, and steps that members of the community should be taking to protect themselves. As always, I will continue to do interviews with the local media to ensure the public is fully informed on the most up-to-date information on COVID-19.
Adirondack Daily Enterprise: Stefanik says she helped FCI Ray Brook COs with COVID get paid
North Country Now: Rep. Stefanik urges Trump to grant waiver providing funds for FEMA work due to COVID-19 pandemic
Sun Community News: Stefanik Sends Letter Requesting Funding for School-Based Health Centers
Press Republican: Stefanik votes for relief legislation
Adirondack Daily Enterprise: Stefanik presses for new hospital aid formula
Post Star: Stefanik touts continued pay for correctional officers who tested positive for coronavirus
WAMC: NY Reps Vote In Favor Of Emergency Coronavirus Aid Package
Spectrum News: Stefanik Wants Funding For School-Based Health Centers
On behalf of our entire district, I want to thank the incredible leadership, courage, and resilience of so many at this difficult, unprecedented time as we work together to combat and beat COVID-19.
From our doctors, nurses, physician assistants, healthcare providers, hospital personnel, EMS, and first reponders who are on the front lines of our public healthy needs, to our truck drivers, manufacturers, grocers, workers, and farmers who are keeping our shelves stocked, to our county personnel and local elected officials who are working daily to ensure we have the capacity to meet the public’s needs to the best of our ability, to our teachers, caregivers, volunteers, and parents who are meeting the challenge, to our local media informing the public, our entire community is grateful for your tremendous service.
As a community working together, we will overcome this. My office is here to serve each and every constituent. No issue is too small and we will continue to work around the clock to serve the families and small businesses of our district.
As always, thank you for subscribing to my weekly updates!