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Higgins votes to support hospitals, testing, small business & workers

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Fri, Apr 24th 2020 11:30 am

Congressman calls for swift action to provide relief to local communities responding to COVID-19 

Congressman Brian Higgins voted in favor of a coronavirus emergency package that provides relief to health care providers, expands the Paycheck Protection Program to keep small businesses afloat and employees working, and funds testing capacity toward the goal of restarting the economy. At the same time, Higgins expressed great frustration that the bill didn’t include funding he supported for communities dealing with COVID-19 response.

Below is a breakdown of the funding included in the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act:

  • $310 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program: Low-interest loans which can be forgiven for small businesses (under 500 employees) and nonprofits that keep their employees on the payroll
  • $30 billion set aside for smaller, community banks
  • $30 billion set aside for credit unions or community development financial institutions (CDFI’s)
  • The CARES Act included $349 billion for PPP; this brings total allocation to $659 billion
  • $60 billion for disaster assistance to small businesses
  • $50 billion for emergency disaster loans
  • $10 billion in emergency disaster grants
  • $75 billion to support health care providers and hospitals: This is in addition to the $100 billion provided to hospitals in the CARES Act.
  • $25 billion for virus testing, critical to reopening the economy: Includes $11 billion for states, localities and tribes
  • 21 days after enactment, the secretary must issue a report on COVID-19 testing with demographic and geographic data, which must be updated every 30 days. The report will also detail cases, hospitalizations and deaths as a result of COVID-19.

While this emergency package did not include direct aid for communities beyond relief for business, hospitals and testing, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, approved by the House on March 27, did include funding to support a variety of community needs.

Below is a rundown of some of the funding delivered to Western New York thus far:

  • $68.8 million for local students and colleges
  • $2.6 million for WNY federally qualified health clinics
  • $1 million for police departments
  • $61.3 million for public transportation – NFTA for busses and transit
  • $23.53 million for Buffalo and Niagara Falls airports,
  • $20 million to local communities through the Community Development Block Grant program
  • Tens of millions of dollars to hospitals and other health care providers
  • Up to $160 million for Erie County, as well as support for the Seneca Nation

The Senate voted to approve H.R.266, the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act, on April 21. With House approval in a vote of 388-5-1, the bill now moves to the president, who is expected to sign it into law.

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