Press Release

Castor Statement on House Passage of Fourth Coronavirus Aid Package

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Washington, April 23, 2020 | comments

“Today, the House of Representatives passed a fourth bipartisan coronavirus aid package to speed significant emergency resources to small businesses, provide critical resources for brave frontline health workers including personal protective equipment and boost hospitals and health providers like Tampa General, BayCare and Tampa Family Health Centers that are serving the Tampa community during this critical time. The package also provides a national framework for widespread COVID-19 testing.

“This legislation secures significant new dollars for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) to keep our small businesses here in Tampa afloat and keep their employees attached to their business.

“House Democrats pushed the Administration to ensure that the Paycheck Protection Program provided emergency assistance to all types of small businesses, including minority-owned and small mom and pop shops. New community financial institutions and credit unions are able to participate and help distribute the lifeline loans. 

“After hearing from my neighbors who were fearful of being left out, I pressed for the inclusion of community lenders, including community banks, credit unions, minority depository institutions (MDIs), Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs), microlenders and certified development companies (CDCs) who are primary conduits for loans to minority-owned businesses. House Democrats successfully pressed to ensure that the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act included $60 billion for these community financial institutions to participate as PPP lenders. These community-based lenders are experts in getting resources to neighborhood small businesses that need funding the most. In fact, 85% of CDFI loans and investments went towards their target markets and are therefore well positioned to similarly assist the most vulnerable in this pandemic. In FY 2019, CDFI program awardees made over 772,000 loans or investments totaling more than $21.5 billion. The average size of each loan or investment was under $28,000. They know how to get funds out the door quickly.

“Today’s legislation also provides $75 billion on behalf of patients and health care workers for our hospitals and health care providers.  Unfortunately, the uneven national response by the Trump administration has forced hospitals and other health care providers to fend for themselves when it comes to purchasing personal protective equipment (PPE) and other supplies to treat our sick neighbors and keep our frontline health care workers safe.  The ‘fend for yourself’ approach has led to shortages and premium pricing  on necessary supplies at a time when we have been pressing providers to also expand testing and staffing. Health care providers have also created emergency response centers while forgoing much of the also needed procedures that contribute most to their bottom lines.

“Congress previously took action to provide funding for our hospitals and health care providers, however the Trump administration has distributed those funds in a way that did not take into account the actual impact of fighting this pandemic. So today, we acted once more to provide funds for patients and health care workers. The funds provided should help those hospitals and other providers who find themselves in dire financial straits.  It will keep them in the fight.

“Finally, House Democrats pushed to establish a national testing framework - something that President Trump has resisted. It’s critical to ramp up testing and provide guidelines and parameters for states and cities in order to safely and responsibly open up the economy.

“It’s vitally important that we provide aid to our neighbors and businesses. The fourth coronavirus aid package passed by Congress, will be followed by a fifth that will send aid to our frontline heroes like police and firefighters who work for our local communities.

“I was honored to preside over this historic vote today, in a mask, and as a witness to the goodness of America - where people of different parties joined together to fight a common enemy in the best interests of our great country.”

Here is some of the aid that Rep. Castor and Congress pressed to deliver with dispatch to benefit Floridians:

·        Increasing the appropriation level for the Paycheck Protection Program from $349 billion to $670.335 billion.

o   $60 Billion Set-Aside for Smaller Lenders:  The bill provides a $60 billion set-aside within PPP for small and mid-sized banks and credit unions as well as community-based lending institutions.  This set-aside funding will help ensure that unbanked and underserved businesses can get access to PPP.  This includes minority-owned businesses, rural businesses, small mom and pop businesses, and smaller nonprofits that too often have been pushed to the back of the line.

·        Expand Economic Injury Disaster Program: increasing the authorization level for the Emergency Economic Injury Disaster (EIDL) Grants from $10 billion to $20 billion.

·        $75 Billion to Hospitals and Health Care Providers: This funding can be used to purchase Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for our health care workers and reimburse hospitals and other health care providers for health care related expenses or lost revenue attributable to COVID-19..  This funding is in addition to the $100 billion that was provided for this same purpose in the CARES Act. Over 21, 000 providers in Florida have received over $2 billion to protect workers and patients through the CARES Act, but due to the administration’s failure to distribute those funds in a way that took into account the actual impact of fighting this pandemic, we are providing additional resources to ensure providers get the resources they need to get the job done.

·        $25 Billion for Expenses Related to Expanding COVID-19 Testing:  This funding includes covering expenses related to research, development, validation, manufacturing, purchasing, administering, or expanding capacity for COVID-19 testing. This funding includes:

o   $11 Billion for COVID-19 Testing and Related Activities: The $11 billion can be used for necessary expenses to develop, purchase, administer, process and analyze COVID-19 tests, including support for the workforce, epidemiology, use by employers, scaling up testing, conducting surveillance, conducting contact tracing, and other related testing activities.

o   $1 Billion for CDC:  The $1 billion is to be used for surveillance, epidemiology, contact tracing, and other activities to support testing.

o   $1.8 Billion for NIH:  The $1.8 billion is to be used to accelerate development of point-of-care and rapid diagnostic technologies.

o   $1 billion for the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA):  The $1 billion is to be used to accelerate development of point-of-care and rapid diagnostic technologies.

o   $22 Million for FDA:  The $22 million is to be used by FDA for its role in accelerating development and approval of point-of-care and rapid diagnostics technologies.

o   $600 Million for Community Health Centers:  The $600 million for Community Health Centers is to be used to support COVID-19 testing. Tampa Family Health Centers has previously received over $3.5 million in coronavirus-related funding from previous aid packages to protect their hardworking employees and allow them to continue to serve our most vulnerable neighbors

o   $1 Billion for Testing For the Uninsured:  This $1 billion is to cover the cost of testing the uninsured.

·        Within 30 Days of Enactment, Requires A Federal COVID-19 Strategic Testing Plan:  The bill requires the Secretary of Health and Human Services, no later than 30 days after the date of enactment, to submit to Congress a COVID-19 Strategic Testing Plan. The plan is long awaited from the Trump Administration and insists that they focus on increasing and making possible wide spread domestic testing including testing supplies.

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