BRUNSWICK, ME – Today, U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine) participated in a live-streamed tele-town hall hosted by AARP Maine to answer questions from Maine seniors about the challenges coronavirus is creating for Maine’s senior population, the federal response to help those who are struggling, and best practices to stay safe. In addition to Senator King, today’s call featured Governor Janet Mills, Maine Commissioner of Labor Laura Fortman, and Maine Commissioner of Health and Human Services Jeanne Lambrew, and was moderated by AARP Maine State Director Lori Parham.
“The continued spread of coronavirus has touched every impact of our society, and raised a number of important questions on the best ways to protect yourselves, your family, and your communities,” said Senator King. “As the oldest state in the nation per capita, it is critically important for Maine people to have the best available information, as quickly and clearly delivered as possible. In the days ahead, I’ll keep using every tool available to connect with Maine people to make sure they have all the information they need to stay safe. I’m grateful to AARP Maine for bringing us all together for this conversation, and for everything they do to support our state’s seniors.”
On today’s call, Senator King highlighted a number of the important provisions included in the Senate’s bipartisan coronavirus aid package. He specifically highlighted:
- $100 billion for a program to direct aid to healthcare institutions on the front lines of the fight against coronavirus – a $55 billion increase from the initial bill. Senator King has made it a priority to make sure our healthcare providers have the tools they need to treat patients and protect themselves, and backed plans to provide additional support to rural hospitals who were already facing challenges.
- Four months of heightened unemployment insurance. This increased unemployment is one month more than was included in the initial legislative proposal, and would provide a key lifeline for American workers who have lost their jobs amid the economic slowdown. Senator King emphasized the importance of unemployment insurance in his letter to appropriators laying out his key priorities for this package.
- Direct payments to the American people. The legislation includes a $1,200 cash payment to all American adults making below $75,000 for individuals and $150,000 per married couple, and an additional $500 per child. Payments begin to phase out above the $75,000 and $150,000 thresholds. Social Security recipients are eligible to receive these funds, provided they did not have income exceeding the phase-out cutoffs of $99,000 or $198,000 in 2018 or 2019. Senator King was a leading voice calling for direct cash payments to the American people.
- $377 billion to help small businesses weather economic slowdown. The legislation includes vital funds to aid small businesses impacted by the economic freeze. Small businesses can obtain $10,000 loan advance grants within three days of requesting a loan from the Small Business Administration, providing them with the capital that they need to maintain operations or pay rent until their disaster loan application is approved. The legislation also includes the King-backed Small Business Debt Relief Act, which creates a six-month payment holiday for existing small business loans through the Small Business Administration. The provision will help 1,883 businesses in Maine navigate the obstacles created by coronavirus and look toward the future.