News from Representative Upton

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April 21, 2020

@MyKitchenTable: Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Dear Friend:

First, some news from this morning:
  • The FDA published a letter to health care providers on the use of serological tests intended to detect antibodies to help identify folks who may have been exposed and have recovered from the infection. See here for more information.
  • The FDA published info regarding the Coronavirus Treatment Acceleration Program to move new treatments to patients ASAP, while at the same time finding out if they are helpful or harmful. So far, 72 clinical trials of potential therapies for COVID-19 are underway with FDA oversight. See here for more information.
  • SAMHSA announced it has expedited releasing $10 million in emergency grant funding to provide Americans with substance use treatment and mental health services during the pandemic. See here for more information.
The breaking news of course is that finally we have a long-promised agreement that will continue SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) as part of a bipartisan agreement that both the Republican and Democrat leadership support and the President has been directly involved with. He is grateful to get it to his desk by the end of the week. The Senate late this afternoon agreed to the plan, and we are being called back in the House to cast a recorded vote on Thursday morning. The plan includes $250 billion to refill the PPP with an additional $60 billion for smaller sized community banks and credit unions to direct the funds. 

SBA earlier published a report that 1.66 million loans were approved by 4,974 different lenders, keeping the employees at small businesses on payroll with the first $350 billion.  In Michigan, we had 43,438 loans totaling $10.3 billion. 

In addition to the PPP, $75 billion more was included for our hospitals/health providers, $60 billion for SBA disaster loans, and $25 billion for testing to help out the states.

Why is this hospital money so important?  You may have seen the story earlier today regarding 2,500 personnel cuts for Beaumont Health system in SE Michigan.  At Bronson, they reported revenues were down 50% in March from last year, and they too announced pay cuts and furloughs (see MLIVE story here). This is an issue with all our health providers and the Trump Administration is releasing another $20 billion from the earlier passed CARES bill this week that will match what our health providers received from Medicare and Medicaid in prior months to help “hold them over”.

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On a Zoom call earlier with my Problem Solvers colleague 

and Rules Committee Chairman Jim McGovern

A couple of conference calls of note. As the top Republican on the Energy Subcommitte, I participated on a call with our Energy Secretary regarding the impact of the drop in world oil prices and the impact on domestic production and jobs (the stock market drop today of 631 points reflected the oil concerns). He is working to try and stabilize the markets with international cooperation both with overseas OPEC producers - they may reduce production faster than they had originally agreed and increase domestic storage of cheap oil to benefit the U.S. later - and with our Mexican and Canadian counterparts to band together to try and mitigate the disruption of prices and stabilize the markets. Later, Larry Kudlow, the president’s top economic advisor, confirmed the same conversation. He confessed that he could not “sugar coat” the economic conditions that earlier this year were promising to exceed 3% GDP this last quarter, and he predicted and hoped for positive growth in both the 3rd and 4th quarters.

In addition, I have heard from a number of elected officials regarding the state of Michigan budget and the impact this pandemic has had on its expenditures and revenues.  In CARES, we approved some $150 billion for the states.  You can see the Department of Treasury statement here. The funds have not yet been released but Michigan’s share will be $3,872,510,075 and is based on population. That’s why the census is important. I will be staying in touch with the Treasury Department to watch its disbursement.

Lastly, my staff spent today reaching out to nursing homes here in southwest Michigan to get an update on what challenges they were facing and what we could do to help. Nursing homes especially are facing unique circumstances during this crisis, and the CNAs and staffs are really stepping up to care for their patients. We are so grateful for all that they and everyone serving on the front lines are doing. Thank you.

Tomorrow I start my 7-hour trek back to D.C. for the recorded vote Thursday morning. Flights are extremely limited and there will be a number of colleagues not able to return for the vote, but I do expect a broad bipartisan approval with perhaps an effort to permit some form of remote voting during this emergency.  I will not be able to write a Kitchen Table report tomorrow so look for Thursday’s. Be safe and wear that mask, please.  We want workers and consumers to be safe in all our communities.

Today’s definition of progress—“Be not afraid of going slowly, only of standing still.”

 God bless,

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Fred Upton
Member of Congress

 

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