Message from Congresswoman Chellie Pingree

Dear Friend,

This week brought some great news out of the United States Supreme Court. The Court blocked the Trump administration from ending DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), meaning that our nation's more than 650,000 Dreamers can stay in the country they know and love. Next, the Senate must pass the Dream and Promise Act, legislation that would codify this decision. The House passed it a year ago, on June 4, 2019, with my support.

ImageClick to watch a video I took of Dreamers celebrating in the House Gallery on the night our chamber passed H.R. 6.

The Supreme Court also ruled 6-3 that the 1964 Civil Rights Act protects LGBTQ employees from workplace discrimination. The ruling affirmed that you cannot be fired for who you are or who you love. While it is just one step in our journey to protecting the LGBTQ community, it is a big one.

This week, there have unfortunately also been attacks on the LGBTQ community. The Trump administration finalized a rule that would allow open discrimination against transgender individuals in the health care system. This deeply bigoted attack endangers the lives of trans people, and it's far from the first we've seen from the Trump administration. From the trans military ban to a roll back of protections for trans people in federal prisons to the Education Department's revocation of a rule allowing trans students to use the corresponding bathroom to their gender identity, this Administration has been set to target trans individuals since day one. 

ImageTrans people experience disproportionate harassment, violence, economic insecurity, and health disparities. They are also killed at an alarmingly high rate: according to the Human Rights Campaign, 14 transgender or gender non-conforming people have been fatally shot or killed by other types of violence in 2020. In 2019, the number was 26, the majority of whom were Black trans women. In the past week, two Black transgender women have been found dead: Dominique "Rem'Mie" Fells, and Riah Milton. 

As we celebrate Pride Month, let us not forget that we are in the midst of a global pandemic, which has hurt many LGBTQ youth. LGBTQ youth have lost positive social interactions with their peers and may be isolated in an unsupportive or potentially abusive household. Those experiencing homelessness are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19, and between 20 to 45% of homeless youth identify as LGBTQ. I've led a letter with my colleagues in the LGBTQ Caucus to push the Trump administration to protect LGBTQ youth during this pandemic

If any of your family or friends are interested in hearing from my office, please have them sign up for my newsletter here. My website is also updated with resources and congressional actions on COVID-19, located at pingree.house.gov/coronavirus. You can also check out my FacebookInstagram, and Twitter for updates.

Best,

Chellie

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Update from Maine

Maine continues to reopen sectors of the state's economy. Fitness centers, nail salons, and tattoo parlors have opened across our state, along with restaurants for both indoor and outdoor dining. As long as these businesses have passed the state's reopening guidelines, they may open to patrons. 

The Maine Delegation joined together to write to the USDA about the Farmers to Families Food Box Program, which was meant to be a program that provided food directly to families in need from USDA. No Maine distributors were selected to participate in this program, and the out-of-state distributors who were awarded contracts were only able to provide a very limited number of boxes to Maine food banks. The delegation asked that the next round of the program address these shortcomings, since food insecurity in Maine could rise by as much as 40% during the pandemic


Congressional Update

ImageToday is Juneteenth, a holiday that commemorates when the last forcibly enslaved Black people were told of their freedom on June 19, 1865: more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed by President Lincoln. Today, I cosponsored The Juneteenth National Independence Day Act, which would finally make Juneteenth a federal holiday. Watch this video where you can hear why I support this legislation.

I've also signed on to more than 25 other pieces of legislation that would help dismantle systemic racism in the United States, ranging from police brutality to racial health disparities, environmental justice, voting rights, fair labor practices, and more. You can find those bills at my newly launched webpage: pingree.house.gov/racialjustice.

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I joined my House colleagues in introducing H.R. 7197, the RESTAURANTS Act of 2020, legislation that would establish a $120 billion restaurant stabilization grant program. This fund would help independent restaurants in Maine and across the country deal with the long-term structural challenges facing the industry due to the coronavirus pandemic, and would make sure they can eventually reemploy their 11 million workers. Here in Maine, small restaurants contribute more than $3 billion to our economy and employ more than 40,000 people. I also signed on to a letter this week to support craft beverage producers, who have been hit hard during the pandemic as nearly half of all their revenue comes from tasting rooms and in person sales. 

Along with the members of the Sustainable Energy & Environment Coalition, I wrote to House leadership, asking them to prioritize policies that make our country cleaner, healthier, and more equitable in future stimulus packages. We need a green recovery from the coronavirus pandemic—one that puts people to work and makes our planet a cleaner, safer place.


Frequently Asked Questions

I am currently unemployed and do not have to report my work search activities to the Maine Department of Labor. Will that be changing? Yes. if you are permanently separated from your last job but are now are unemployed due to the coronavirus pandemic, you will have to start reporting your work search on July 12. After July 11, this work search is a condition for receiving unemployment benefits and failure to look for work can result in the denial of benefits.


Resources and Community Updates

ImageThis week is Census Week! Every week, I urge you to fill out your census, but I want you to know why the census is so critical. The census is a complete and accurate count of everyone living in our country, and as such, it determines how federal representation and spending is allocated. For a decade, these figures determine where we should build new schools, hospitals, roads, housing, and other essential services for our communities. As of June 12, 60.9% of Maine residents had been counted in the census. While this is good progress, it is important that everyone is counted. Don't forget to fill yours out via the mail or online at census.gov.

The Federal Reserve Bank of Boston's Main Street Lending Program is now open for lender registration. The program is designed to help credit flow to small- and medium-sized businesses during the pandemic. Eligible financial institutions are now able to register through the program's lender portal and are encouraged to begin making Main Street program loans immediately. The FRB is also considering a proposal to expand this program to nonprofits

The Small Business Administration (SBA) and the Treasury Department have announced revisions to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan forgiveness application. The full forgiveness application has been revised along with a new EZ version applying to borrowers that are self-employed with no employees; did not reduce the salaries or wages of their employees by more than 25% and did not reduce their employees' hours; or experienced reductions in business activities as a result of health directives related to the pandemic and didn't reduce their employees' salaries or wages by more than 25%. More is available here

The Small Business Administrations (SBA)'s Economic Injury Disaster Loans portal has reopened, and now allows for applications by nonprofits. More here.

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