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Congresswoman Escobar Votes for the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act

Washington, April 23, 2020

Congresswoman Veronica Escobar (TX-16) voted for H.R. 266, the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act, an interim emergency funding package that will provide the emergency resources that are desperately needed to help protect the lives and livelihoods of El Pasoans during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. 

“Every day, El Pasoans see the need for further action to combat the health and economic crisis brought on by this pandemic. Our small businesses are hurting more than ever, our region has reached more than 34,000 unemployment claims, and our hospitals and dedicated health care workers are working around the clock to save lives,” said Congresswoman Escobar

“This vote honors my promise to protect vulnerable businesses by strengthening the Paycheck Protection Program while securing critical resources needed by our hospitals and increasing our nation’s testing capacity. More needs to be done and I will continue to advocate to ensure Congress leaves no El Pasoan behind.”

Below are some of the major components of the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act:

Key Small Business Improvement Provisions

  •  Key Funding to Make Improvements to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP): The bill infuses $310 billion in additional funding to the PPP and makes key improvements to the program that will provide access to underserved small businesses and nonprofits who have been unable to access PPP funds up until now.  These improvements include:
    • $60 Billion Set-Aside for Smaller Lenders: The bill provides a $60 billion set-aside within PPP for small and mid-sized banks and credit unions as well as community-based lending institutions.  This set-aside funding will help ensure that unbanked and underserved businesses can get access to PPP. This includes minority-owned businesses, rural businesses, small mom and pop businesses, and smaller nonprofits that too often have been pushed to the back of the line. 
  • $50 Billion for SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Program, Which Has Also Run Out of Funding: This emergency loan program provides flexible assistance to COVID-19-affected small businesses to cover operating expenses, including payroll and fixed costs like rent and utilities.  This program is facing the same high demand as PPP.  
  • In Addition, this legislation includes $10 Billion for SBA’s EIDL Grant Program, Which Has Also Run Out of Funding: The bill provides $10 billion for the EIDL grant program, which offers up to $10,000 in cash advances for immediate relief to small businesses and eligible nonprofits that apply for an EIDL loan. The cash advance does not have to be paid back.
  • Democrats Also Won A Provision Making Farmers and Other Agricultural Enterprises Now Eligible for the EIDL Program: The bill adds agricultural enterprises under 500 employees as an eligible recipient for grants of up to $10,000 and low-interest loans of up to $2 million through the SBA’s EIDL program. 

Key Hospital, Health Care Workers, and Testing Provisions

  • Congresswoman Escobar and House Democrats Won $75 Billion for Hospitals and Health Care Workers: The bill provides $75 billion to reimburse hospitals and other health care providers for health care related expenses or lost revenue attributable to COVID-19. This funding can be used for such purposes as desperately needed Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for our health care workers. This funding is in addition to the $100 billion that was provided for this same purpose in the CARES Act.  
  • Within 30 Days of Enactment, Requires A Federal COVID-19 Strategic Testing Plan: The bill requires the Secretary of HHS, no later than 30 days after the date of enactment, to submit to Congress a COVID-19 Strategic Testing Plan.  The plan is to focus on increasing domestic testing capacity including testing supplies. The plan is to be updated every 90 days.  
  • Within 21 Days of Enactment, Requires A Federal Report With Demographic Data on COVID-19: The bill requires the Secretary of Health and Human Services, no later than 21 days after the date of enactment, to submit a report to Congress on the number of cases, hospitalizations, and deaths related to COVID-19, including de-identified data disaggregated by race, ethnicity, age, sex, geographic region, and other relevant factors. The report must be updated every 30 days.
  • Within 180 Days of Enactment, Requires An Additional Federal Report with Demographic Data on COVID-19: The bill requires the Secretary of HHS, no later than 180 days after the date of enactment, to submit a report to Congress on the number of positive diagnoses, hospitalizations, and deaths as a result of COVID-19, including data disaggregated nationally by race, ethnicity, age, sex, geographic region, and other relevant factors.  The report must also include an epidemiological analysis of such data.
  • Finally, Congresswoman Escobar and House Democrats Won $25 Billion for Expenses Related to Expanding COVID-19 Testing: This funding includes covering expenses related to research, development, validation, manufacturing, purchasing, administering, or expanding capacity for COVID-19 testing and includes $11 billion for states, localities, territories, and Tribes for COVID-19 testing and related activities, $600 million for community health centers, $225 million for rural health clinics, and $1 billion for testing for the uninsured.
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