Dear Friend,

These are extremely challenging times. I’m deeply grateful to the health care workers, first responders, grocery store employees, postal workers, child care providers, and all of the other essential workers who are on the front lines keeping our communities going. Thank you for your hard work. My heart goes out to all the families who have experienced this illness, especially those who have lost a precious loved one. We may be physically separated, but we grieve these losses together as a community.

I’m doing all I can to bring more federal funding to Oregon to relieve the severe economic distress we’re experiencing, and to address the strain on our health care system from COVID-19. Here are a few local highlights of the federal funding I helped secure:

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Despite these resources, many in our community are still suffering. Much more must be done to support our workers, families, and communities. Here are some of the things I’m working on.

Supporting Our Small Businesses

Congress acted quickly to pass more than $349 billion in relief for small businesses, but the implementation of those programs has been deeply frustrating for many business owners who have not yet received relief, including very small businesses, self-employed people, and women- and minority-owned businesses. Congress must quickly replenish and expand the Small Business Administration’s funds, including for the Paycheck Protection Program. Negotiations are ongoing and we hope to pass a bill soon.

We also need more guardrails and accountability to make sure that funds are distributed equitably. Recently I held a webinar for small business owners to ask their questions directly of local SBA administrators, with more than 200 participants.

We must exhaust every tool we have to help small businesses. Right now, credit unions face unnecessary restrictions that prevent them from fully serving their communities. I led 64 bipartisan members in calling for those restrictions to be lifted so more small businesses can get the support they need to survive.


Protecting Student Loan Borrowers

I’ve heard from many student loan borrowers who are worried about making ends meet – especially during the coronavirus pandemic. As a strong advocate for student loan borrowers and their families, I’ve been working to provide additional supports to those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The recently passed CARES Act paused payments and interest accrual for six months for most federal student loan borrowers. This is a good start, but we must do more to protect all student loan borrowers, especially those most vulnerable, by forgiving at least $10,000 in student loan debt.

At a time when we should be doing everything to help borrowers, it is unconscionable that the Trump administration is garnishing the wages of millions of struggling student loan borrowers, despite a new law passed by Congress last month that prohibits such wage seizures during the coronavirus public health emergency. I called out this unlawful behavior and will keep fighting for borrowers.

Recently I held a webinar with The Institute for College Access & Success to answer some of the most pressing questions about protections that are available to help. If you weren’t able to participate live, you can see a recording of the webinar here. And don’t hesitate to reach out to my office by calling 503-469-6010 if you need assistance.


Helping Families Pay the Bills

No one should be forced to choose between paying their bills and paying for food, but that is the tragic choice many working families face during this pandemic. We need to help them keep the heat and water on, which is why I led 77 of my colleagues in calling for $4.3 billion in energy assistance for low-income families. I’ve also called for assistance programs for other utility bills, like water and wastewater services. At a minimum, we need to make sure no one’s utilities are turned off, so I called for a moratorium on shutoffs of electricity, water, heat, phone, and internet.


Protecting Child Care for Families

Even before the pandemic, too many families were struggling to find affordable, high-quality child care. Since the pandemic started, access to child care has become more critical and more scarce. We can’t afford to lose any child care providers, but many report that they may not survive an extended closure. I am calling for $50 billion for child care in the next relief package to support workers, keep businesses open, and help working families. In the meantime, I was pleased to announce that Oregon will receive $38.5 million for child care from the CARES Act—and I’ll be leading the way to make sure we do much more to protect child care and working families. 

A Green Road to Recovery

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The pandemic is a stark illustration of why we must listen to the best available science and address the climate crisis.  Our recovery can also be an opportunity to create good-paying jobs and make our country more climate resilient. Join me on Wednesday to recognize the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. From 2-3 pm I’ll be hosting a webinar on Building a Green Road to Recovery. Click here to RSVP and submit questions in advance. 

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