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Blaine’s Bulletin: New Year & COVID Package

On December 21, Congress passed another historic rescue package that President Trump has signed into law to aid in our nation’s continued recovery and help get 2021 started off on the right foot. This bill was months in the making and, while not perfect, it contains several critical provisions that will allow us to safely reopen Missouri businesses, get students and teachers back in the classroom, and make vaccines available to at-risk individuals, medical workers, first responders, and every Missourian who wants one. 

First and foremost, the new law provides nearly $20 billion in health care funding for vaccine production and $8.75 billion for distribution across the county at little-to-no expense to patients. The dissemination of the vaccine is one of the final steps in helping our nation resume regular life and gives the at-risk and vulnerable populations the capability to live without fear. The law also supports families and individuals who have been hit hard by the pandemic’s economic impact. While many Missourians have been able to return to work, unfortunately not everyone has had this option. Unemployment coverage has been expanded and another round of stimulus checks for individuals making under $75,000 and couples making under $150,000 began going out this week. The Child Care and Development Block Program will also be bolstered by $10 billion to help ease the burden of child care for parents whose children may not be back at school full time but are returning to work. And the Education Stabilization Fund is increased by $82 billion to provide emergency funding for schools and universities, helping our students get back to full-time, in-person learning and making sure they are equipped for difficult situations moving forward. 

For the many farmers and ranchers who call the Third District home, the USDA’s Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) will receive more funding to help those whose operations have been interrupted by the pandemic. While schools were closed, lack of broadband access caused a major problem for students who were learning from home. The new law includes a broadband deployment program to provide increased broadband infrastructure in rural and underserved communities in Missouri and across the country. Another big help for rural Missouri is the increased telehealth funding to ensure all Missourians have access to health care no matter their zip code.

As the incoming top Republican on the House Small Business Committee, I am especially pleased to report the reopening and strengthening of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). Businesses here in Missouri and across the nation have suffered enough, and after months of asking Speaker Pelosi to release the remaining aid, more help is finally on the way. This bill provides more than $280 billion to revamp the PPP and get struggling businesses back on their feet. It has been targeted to make sure that the businesses and industries who need it most – like those with 300 employees or less and the restaurant and hotel industry – are eligible for a second round. And the once burdensome and expensive loan forgiveness process has been streamlined and simplified for all loans under $150,000. These businesses have been through enough, and asking them to go through bureaucratic red tape and legal fees to have their loans forgiven goes against the purpose of emergency aid. It will also prevent small businesses that have received PPP funds from being taxed for accepting help. Small businesses are the heart and soul of America, and it will be my mission as the leading Republican on the Small Business Committee to help them recover and get back to thriving. 

There is no denying 2020 was a difficult year, but with the New Year comes a fresh start. It is my sincere belief this COVID relief package is the first step toward a healthy and prosperous 2021. I’m looking forward to getting to work for you in 117th Congress in just a couple of days.  On behalf of Jackie and my family, I wish you and yours a very Happy New Year!