April 21, 2020
BRUNSWICK, ME – Today, U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine) released the following statement after the Senate approved a bipartisan agreement that would provide an additional $484 billion in funding to support America’s small businesses and hospitals hit hard by the economic impacts of coronavirus, as well as increasing federal funds to support coronavirus testing:
“This agreement isn’t perfect, but it is progress, and will make a real difference for several sectors of our society which are being hit extremely hard by the economic impacts of coronavirus, and will move us one step closer to safely re-opening the country. The bill replenishes support for our small businesses and sets aside $60 billion to ensure that those who have them most difficulty accessing funds, including rural businesses, have a fair opportunity to do so. Additionally, these negotiations have produced a bill that will provide $75 billion for the hospitals that are on the front lines of this fight. Critically, the agreement also includes $25 billion for testing, which is an absolute necessity if we are to safely send Americans back to work. These last two provisions, as well as help for rural businesses, are fully the product of additional negotiations in recent days – and serve as a reminder that to face this crisis, we all must work together.
“Now, as I said – the agreement is not perfect. I am extremely disappointed by the lack of funding for states and localities, which are facing severe budget shortfalls right at the moment when the demand for services is highest. That said, this agreement does provide states a little more breathing room, through added flexibility that lets states use previously-issued federal funds to cover other budgetary challenges resulting from the pandemic’s fallout – which is a positive step, but not enough. In the days ahead, there will be more negotiation to continue to address the impacts of this pandemic, and I will be fighting to make sure the federal government is there to help all Americans get through this challenge and come out the other side.”
Senator King has fought to support Maine’s small businesses throughout this crisis, including voting for the inclusion of $377 billion to help small businesses weather economic slowdown in the Senate’s original coronavirus response package. The legislation included 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 is helping 1,883 businesses in Maine navigate the obstacles created by coronavirus and look toward the future. Last week, Senator King sent a letter to the Small Business Administration urging the SBA to speedily release funds from the Emergency Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Grant Program to support Maine businesses that are waiting on emergency grants.
Senator King has also pushed to make sure America’s medical professionals and healthcare infrastructure have the tools they need to treat coronavirus patients and protect themselves; through the CARES Act, Maine hospitals and other healthcare providers have received more than $145 million to help them prepare to treat coronavirus and . He has cosponsored bipartisan legislation that would extend a lifeline to rural hospitals and providers and the 60 million Americans who depend on them for health care by providing immediate financial relief, stabilize hospitals, and encourage hospital coordination. He has also urged the FCC to expand access to telehealth services in rural communities, and joined the Maine delegation to urge Secretary Azar to quickly distribute personal protective equipment to Maine.
As a former governor, Senator King has been one of the loudest voices calling for the federal government to support states as they manage a number of economic and public health threats. The provision in this package granting states more flexibility with how they spend federal funds mirrors a bipartisan request from Senators King, Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) – all of whom served as governor before entering the Senate.