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

     As we move into the beginning stages of opening the Commonwealth of Virginia and the rest of the Nation, we should be sure to do it safely, following the CDC’s latest guidelines on how to protect yourself and others, including staying six feet away from others, washing your hands, cleaning and disinfecting, wearing a mask where appropriate, and monitoring your health. Please continue reading for further resources and updates on various programs designed to help you through this crisis.

Emergency Relief Payment

     The CARES Act, legislation that passed in March with my support, included a $1200 Emergency Relief Payment to help families in need during the pandemic. If you are still waiting on your Emergency Relief Payment from the IRS, be aware that it may arrive in the form of a prepaid debit card. Please take the time to examine the contents of any mail received from the IRS, Treasury Department, or Money Network before you shred or throw it away.

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Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act

     Another important program authorized in the CARES Act is the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). This program has provided much-needed relief to millions of small businesses and their employees. As small businesses adapt to different stages of reopening restrictions, many need more flexibility for the terms of their PPP loans. On Thursday, the House passed the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act to address the varying needs of small businesses and ensure that they can focus on getting back on their feet. Specifically, the bill:

  • Extends the loan forgiveness period from 8 weeks to 24 weeks
  • Replaces the 75/25 rule (a requirement that 75 percent of the loan to be used on payroll costs and 25 percent be used on mortgage interest, rent, and utilities) with a 60/40 rule
  • All new PPP loans will receive a 5-year maturity. Existing loans will remain at a 2-year maturity.
  • Allows businesses that receive forgiveness to also receive payroll tax deferment
  • Ensures small businesses won’t be penalized by higher unemployment benefits
  • Creates a safe haven for businesses that are required to operate at only 50 percent capacity
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The Latest Statistics

     In some good news, following the same trend as last week, the number of new cases reported per day in the U.S. continues to decline, as can be seen in the below chart.

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    Expanding testing and having accurate data concerning the virus is key to both fighting its spread and instituting a plan to safely reopen the economy. Another hopeful sign continues on the same positive trend as last week: Although the number of tests performed each day is still increasing dramatically, the percentage of tests coming back positive is still falling.

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Main Street Project

     The Federal Reserve Bank of Boston is administering the Main Street program, part of the emergency lending effort announced by the U.S. Central Bank to keep credit flowing in the economy during the COVID-19 pandemic. It is designed to provide up to $600 billion in credit to small and medium-sized U.S. companies. Boston Federal Reserve Bank President Eric Rosengren said he expects companies to begin receiving money through the Central Bank’s long-awaited Main Street Lending Program within two weeks.

Coronavirus Food Assistance Program

     The U.S. Department of Agriculture is providing critical support to our nation’s farmers and ranchers through the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP). Ranchers and farmers whose operations have been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic can apply for direct financial relief through the CFAP. The application can be found here and will also be available at farmers.gov/cfap.

COVIDCheck

     Please visit the new COVIDCheck website at vdg.virginia.gov/coronavirus if you believe you may have contracted the coronavirus. This risk-assessment tool will allow you to check your symptoms, find a testing facility, and answer any questions you may have. 

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FISA Reauthorization

     The Horowitz report exposed serious flaws in the FISA program, particularly abuses by FBI officials targeting President Trump and his team. The House was slated to vote on the reauthorization of FISA this week, but the bill was pulled after a bipartisan majority raised concerns. Should this bill eventually pass without real reforms, I support the President’s plan to veto it. I am glad the Speaker sent the bill back to the drawing board before consideration on the Floor. 

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Centers for Disease Control Resources:

Centers for Disease Control

How to Protect Yourself

Symptoms and Testing

If You Are at Higher Risk

If You Are Sick

Frequently Asked Questions

Follow @CDCgov on Twitter

     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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