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Coronavirus Update April 17, 2020

Apr 17, 2020
Washington Review

As Congress continues to respond the COVID-19 public health emergency, I am fighting for local, state, and national resources for the pandemic. This week, I joined letters supporting the following policies:

Funding for Hardest-Hit States  – Demanded congressional leadership create a $40 billion fund for New Jersey and New York, the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak. Federal funding for local responses must reflect the real time crisis and meet the communities of greatest present need.

Save the Postal Service – Requested that congressional leadership act quickly to fund the critical services of the United States Postal Service (USPS). The bipartisan Postal Service Board of Governors has asked for $50 billion in emergency grants and $25 billion in borrowing authority and commensurate congressional action is needed.

National Utility Payment Moratorium - Demanded congressional leadership establish a nationwide moratorium on utility shut-offs – including electricity, water, heating, and telecommunications. Vulnerable families are already facing health and economic hardship during this pandemic. Congress cannot allow further instability or threats to safety.

Protect Minority Owned Businesses – Asked congressional leadership to include new data collection mechanisms in the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). Economic relief cannot bypass historically disadvantaged communities. Congress must ensure minority owned businesses are receiving their fair share of relief.

Increase SNAP Funding  –Requested that congressional leadership include critical Supplemental Nutrition Assistant Program (SNAP) measures in future coronavirus relief. Specifically, an increase in the monthly benefit by 15%, an increase in the monthly minimum allotment from $16 to $30, and an elimination of barriers to access for the most vulnerable families.

Protections for Immigrants –Called on Speaker Pelosi, Minority Leader McCarthy, Senate Majority Leader McConnell, and Senate Minority Leader Schumer to expand protections for immigrants in coronavirus relief legislation. Specifically, an extension of stimulus assistance to individuals with an Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN), which would cover more than 4.35 million taxpayers, in future legislation, suspension of the proposed public charge rule, maintenance of work authorization for DACA and Temporary Protected Status (TPS) recipients, and more.

Support Child Care Programs – Directed congressional leadership to support the child care programs indispensible to the nation’s health and stability during this crisis. Specifically, provide $8.25 billion in assistance to child care providers, expand access to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), accelerate Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) funding distribution at the state level, and more.

Investigate Seized Medical Equipment –Asked the Administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for transparency on seized medical equipment protocols. Reports have emerged from health care providers in California, Washington, Oregon, Alaska, and Texas of critical personal protective equipment (PPE) taken away by FEMA orders. States need all available information to adequately protect front line workers.

Support Immigrant Physicians – Urged Acting Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to provide greater flexibility for health care workers with employment-base visas to combat the pandemic. Physicians on H-1B and J-1 visas – including the Conrad State 30 program – are critical to overwhelmed health care providers. We need these brave men and women to continue their work on the frontlines of COVID-19.

Relief for Military Families – Called on Speaker Pelosi and Minority Leader McCarthy to eliminate the copay for mail order drugs under Section 702 of the National Defense Authorization Act. Military members, retirees, and their families should not be burdened by unexpected health care costs during the pandemic.

Protect Unaccompanied Migrant Children –Demanded answers from the Secretary of Homeland Security and the Secretary of the Center for Disease Control and Preventions (CDC) on repots of expelling unaccompanied migrant children at the border. Without proper measures, Congress risks returning children to trafficking, exploitation, or other dangerous situations.