Columns

Blaine’s Bulletin: Coronavirus Update Part III

Washington, March 27, 2020

There is no shortage of commentary and media reports on the ongoing pandemic that has confined many of us to our homes and restricted most of our day-to-day to interactions. However, there is often a difference between “news” and information. Please remember you can find fact-based information from the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services athealth.mo.gov and from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) at cdc.gov.  For guidance over the phone, the Missouri Coronavirus Hotline (1-877-435-8411) is staffed by medical professionals twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. You can also call my office anytime or find information on my website at Luetkemeyer.house.gov/coronavirus.   

Through partnering with countless citizens and businesses with the shared goal of keeping Americans safe and beating the virus, Congress, the Trump Administration, and Missouri’s Governor continue to take unprecedented steps. After two important bills were passed into law over the last couple weeks, we expect a third package to be signed into law very soon. The bill, called the CARES Act, focuses on helping families and businesses stay afloat during the economic slowdown brought on by the virus. Whether you’re battling the virus, a parent of a child whose school has been closed, or a restaurant worker who is unable to work, this bill is designed to help you make ends meet and not be further punished by an already difficult situation. Along the same line, the bill makes funding available for businesses so workers have a job to return to when the time comes.

Specifically, the bill provides every American making under $99,000 a year a check directly from the U.S. Treasury to supplement missed income and makes emergency loans available to businesses to help them keep people employed and ready to hit the ground running when the virus is under control. The President set a goal of April 6 for that money to start being delivered to Americans. For those workers whose employers were forced to shut down, unemployment insurance was also bolstered to ensure you’ll maintain a steady income. These are steps we all hoped the government would never have to take, but they are necessary for our country to get back up and running, hopefully in the not-too-distant future.

To be clear, not everything in the bill is good. A $2 trillion, nearly 1,000-page package is bound to have objectionable provisions, and this is no exception. Like many of you, I find the demand for $25 million for the Kennedy Center of Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. to be absolutely ridiculous. The fact that some of my colleagues -- most notably the Speaker of the House -- have approached this as an opportunity to check items off a political checklist that have nothing to do with the virus exemplifies the very worst of Washington. However, as the President said, we had to negotiate to achieve the relief the country needs and we can’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. 

Just as important as – and much more impressive than – the government’s efforts are actions citizens and businesses are taking to protect the nation. Here in Missouri people are going out of their way to support their local businesses by getting meals to go or ordering items to be delivered. On a national scale, companies are retrofitting factories to make medical equipment and essential items for the country. One of many examples is Budweiser using their resources to produce hand sanitizer. While many of us would certainly welcome one of their traditional products right now, this is a great service Budweiser, and many other Missouri companies, are providing for the greater good.  

There remains a lot of uncertainty and much more needs to be done. But if we all continue looking out for each other, remaining vigilant about our health, and taking care of our families we will come out even stronger.