News From Congressman Ben Cline
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     Sixth District Perspectives
with Congressman Ben Cline

     The COVID-19 pandemic sweeping the globe has created both a health crisis and an economic crisis unlike anything since the 1918 Spanish Flu. The chaos and fear that has been sown by this virus has impacted every local community, including those here in our part of Virginia. Since the outbreak in the United States began, Congress has acted swiftly to address the needs of Americans – most recently with Thursday’s passage of H.R. 266, the Paycheck Protection Program Increase and Health Care Enhancement Act. Although many small businesses have been denied access to emergency loans under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) since the program ran out of funds last week, its passage is good news for many small businesses still in crisis.

Paycheck Protection Program Increase and Health Care Enhancement Act:

     Last week, the PPP, which came into existence with the passage of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act last month, ran out of funds. In the past month, the PPP has been responsible for helping over 1.6 million businesses, including over 40,000 right here in Virginia, and saving over 30 million American jobs. It was absolutely critical that Congress replenish the PPP’s funds, and after a week of negotiations, a deal was finally reached. The Paycheck Protection Program Increase and Health Care Enhancement Act includes a $310 billion PPP replenishment as well as funding for hospitals and expanded testing.

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      Every day that passed without this funding meant irreparable harm for an untold number of small businesses. While this replenished funding is long overdue, I am glad to see this legislation get to the President’s desk for the sake of American workers and small businesses.

     The PPP was designed to help firms with fewer than 500 workers, not for multi-million dollar companies like Ruth’s Chris, and Shake Shack, or colleges and universities with multi-billion dollar endowments and foundations. Although we must work to keep businesses of all sizes and the jobs, products, and services they provide alive throughout the pandemic, it is not right that so many small businesses—including many in Virginia’s Sixth District—were not given priority in a program designed to help them. Thankfully, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has said that larger firms will now be blocked from using the program, and the President has called on some of the larger companies that had already obtained the loans to return the money.

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Coronavirus/Small Business Telephone Town Hall: 

     As your Representative in Congress, it is my top priority to make sure that you have the most up-to-date information you need to make the best decisions affecting you and your loved ones. On Monday, I hosted my third telephone town hall and my second one pertaining specifically to the coronavirus crisis. I was joined on the call by Virginia’s Small Business Administration (SBA) Director Carl Knoblock and Virginia House Delegate Chris Runion to answer the questions of small business owners in our District and provide them with resources available to help them survive this onerous time with their businesses intact and their employees on payroll. The call contained answers to many frequently asked questions. To listen to the audio of the telephone town hall, please click here

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Orvis Lending a Hand:

     This week, I had the privilege of touring Orvis’ fulfillment center in Roanoke. Orvis has begun producing masks and is donating them to the Rescue Mission of Roanoke and other local nonprofits. I appreciate their and so many other businesses’ contribution to the Sixth District and the COVID-19 relief effort.

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Virtual Service Academy Day:

     On Friday, my office hosted a Virtual Service Academy Day. Via video-call, representatives from the various service academies provided students and parents information on the application, nomination, selection, and appointment processes. While Academy Days are usually held in person, moving this event online helped ensure the health and safety of everyone involved. Thank you to those who participated in the event.

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     At cline.house.gov/covid-19, you can access further information about the coronavirus pandemic, including administrative, congressional, and state action that has been taken to curb the spread of the virus, resources for businesses, and information from the CDC on how to keep you and your families healthy. Rest assured, I will continue to monitor the situation in Virginia and around the country and work with my colleagues to ensure the coordinated efforts of the federal government are at work to stop the spread of this disease.

     If you experience symptoms or have been exposed to someone recently diagnosed with COVID-19, contact your doctor immediately to determine if you need screening. 

     Thank you for the opportunity to serve as your Congressman. If my office can ever be of assistance, please contact my Washington office at (202) 225-5431. 

     For the latest updates from Washington, please follow my social media accounts: FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

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