On March 6, 2021, Senator King voted for the American Rescue Package, a $1.9 trillion COVID relief bill that provides much-needed resources to confront the pandemic and address the ongoing economic harm felt by millions across the country. The legislation includes provisions to provide $1400 direct payments to eligible Americans, extend unemployment benefits, get vital relief to state and local governments, support small businesses, reopen schools safely, fund vaccine distribution efforts, and more.
The American Rescue Plan was signed into law by President Biden on March 11, 2021 and contains key provisions supported by Senator King that will help bring this deadly pandemic under control and provide critical support to families across the country who are currently struggling to make ends meet. Senator King highlighted the bill’s benefits to Maine in an op-ed for the Portland Press Herald, and during discussions on the larger bill he was able to negotiate provisions in the bill to shrink the digital divide exposed by the pandemic through expanded broadband infrastructure across the country.
In the coronavirus relief package, Congress approved new economic impact payments (EIP). For the most up to
date information on eligibility, when the payments will be issued, how to be
sure the IRS has your information, or other questions about this new round of
EIPs click HERE.
Since before the first case of COVID-19 was reported on U.S. soil, Senator King has been focused on protecting the public health of Maine people and Americans across the nation. Below, you’ll find information about Senator King’s work on major pandemic-related efforts over the past year, and ways that he’s kept his lines of communication open with Maine people. If you’d like more information on the individual letters and legislative pushes that Senator King has made during the year, please visit our regularly-updated press release page and subscribe to our monthly newsletter.
2020 – Voting in Support of the First Major Coronavirus Aid Bill in March
- Voting in support of the CARES Act, after two days of negotiations that improved the bill's ability to provide relief for more Maine people, families, students, and businesses. Click HERE for an overview of the legislation's benefits for Maine.
- Voting in unanimous consent to support 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. Read his statement HERE.
2020 – Pushing for Pandemic Preparedness
- Holding decision makers accountable. Despite the USAID response, by February we were one month away from the closure of PREDICT but had no additional information on a successor project. In February, Senator King and Senator Elizabeth Warren followed up on the November letter to request additional information regarding the decision to shut the program down and the timeline for its replacement.
- Requesting forward-thinking response. In January, Senator King and 30 of his Senate colleagues wrote to Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Alex Azar requesting regular updates on the Administration’s response to coronavirus, including the country’s capacity to diagnose the disease and what steps were being taken to prepare American healthcare workers.
- Advocating for American leadership. In February, Senator King introduced the Global Health Security Act, which would support proactive American leadership in global public health by establishing a permanent, Presidentially-appointed position to manage outbreak global health efforts. Though a relevant position has existed through executive order since 2016, that position has been vacant for nearly two years – weakening the nation’s preparedness. Senator King was seen on CNBC, calling for the reinstatement of this vital position.
- In March, he sent a letter to Senate leadership urging them to establish a Special Adviser to the President for Global Health Security within the negotiated phase three coronavirus package.
- In June, he joined five of his Senate colleagues in a letter urging the President to reestablish the National Security Council’s (NSC) Global Health Security Directorate (GHSD) as a separate entity from the Counterproliferation and Biodefense Directorate (CBD).
2019 – Questioning the Pandemic Program’s Shuttering
- Urging administration to maintain health program. Before the first case of coronavirus was reported in China, Senator King was raising the alarm as he saw the U.S. Government weakening our ability to monitor and respond to potential global health concerns. In November, he wrote a letter to the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), requesting details on the Agency’s decision to shutter the PREDICT program, which was tasked with identifying and combating viruses that may generate global public health emergencies, including the coronavirus. In response to Sen. King’s letter, USAID indicated that it intends to initiate a successor project to continue PREDICT’s work.
Updating Maine People on Federal Efforts to Address Coronavirus
Even as the pandemic changes the way we connect, Senator King has made it a priority to engage with Maine people from all walks of life and helpful organizations to address questions surrounding the coronavirus pandemic and identify remaining work to be done. In May, he held tele-town hall, inviting all Maine people to call in toll-free, to listen and respond to questions about coronavirus response efforts. Since the Senate passed the CARES Act, he has participated in teleconferences and phone calls with:
- Maine healthcare providers and advocates, such as the Maine Dental Association and Protect our Care.
- Maine students and educators, including the 16 Maine 2020 County Teachers of the Year, Maine Jump$tart Coalition’s two Finance Educators of the Year, school psychologists, MLTI Virtual Student Conference, University of Maine System Student Veterans, and civics and history teachers from schools across Maine.
- Maine business and community leaders leaders, including members of the Houlton Rotary Club, Maine State Chamber of Commerce, Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association, Penobscot Bay Regional Chamber of Commerce, the New England Council, 120 of Portland’s small business owners and 500 Maine employees of Sun Life.
- Maine nonprofits including the Maine Association of Nonprofits (MANP), United Way and YMCA Youth Advocates from Maine.
- Maine seniors in a call hosted by AARP Maine.
- Maine democracy-focused organizations, such as the Maine League of Women Voters.