WASHINGTON, D.C. – Oregon’s U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley released the following statement after the U.S. Senate passed an interim bill to provide additional emergency funding to small businesses, health care, and coronavirus testing efforts:
“This bill provides urgently needed stopgap funding for our national response to the coronavirus threat. Over the last several weeks, I’ve spoken with hundreds of small business owners and health care providers in Oregon who are hanging on by their fingernails. Today’s action will help send out a desperately needed life raft to our small businesses and their employees, and to our hospitals and health clinics, while also providing more resources to ramp up testing efforts around the country.
“I’ve been fighting hard to make sure that smaller businesses and rural hospitals get significant assistance in this package. Additionally, as the top Democrat on the Senate’s Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee, I fought to make sure that our agricultural businesses will be eligible for more of these small business assistance programs. This bill is a big victory on those fronts.
“Critically, today’s legislation includes a new provision that will ensure a significant share of the small business funding goes to mom-and-pop and other underbanked businesses, especially those that are in rural areas or are minority-owned. We need an economic recovery that is built from the grassroots up, not from the wealthy and powerful down. It’s crucial that this support goes out to Main Street businesses all across America, instead of just businesses that are already well-connected and well-served by the financial system.
“While today’s bill provides a necessary stopgap for our small businesses and hospitals, we cannot delay in providing further relief to American families. Congress must immediately get to work on a bill that addresses significant gaps in the response so far.
- “We need to help the families and individuals who are hurting the most right now, and pass a nationwide moratorium on utility disconnections, an increase in food stamp benefits, and assistance for unemployed workers to afford COBRA health coverage.
- “State, local, and tribal governments, as well as the U.S. Postal Service, need urgent help to maintain vital services for our communities.
- “Congress needs to put in place nationwide mail-in and no-excuse absentee voting, so that this health crisis doesn’t also become a full-blown democracy crisis this November.
- “And we urgently need a comprehensive plan and funding for the large-scale testing and contact tracing that is critical to reopening our nation safely, as well as a path to ramp up domestic vaccine manufacturing capacity rapidly over the next year.
“Americans are counting on us. Let’s deliver for them.”