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Sewell, Byrne, and Palmer all vote for Coronavirus Relief bill


Thursday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation to replenish the Payroll Protection Program and help hospitals and healthcare providers during this global COVID-19 pandemic. U.S. Reps. Terri Sewell (D-Selma), Bradley Byrne (R-Montrose), and Gary Palmer (R-Hoover) voted in favor of the House-passed Senate Amendment to H.R. 266, the Interim Emergency Coronavirus Relief Package, otherwise known as the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act.

“I am hopeful that this legislation will offer relief to our small businesses, health care providers and states as they battle the coronavirus,” said Rep. Sewell. “I am especially pleased with the provisions in this legislation that take steps to address the inequities of the Paycheck Protection Program. Moving forward, we should build on these improvements to ensure that businesses in underserved communities are able to access the resources they need to succeed.”

“While it is important Congress continue real-time evaluations of the ongoing response to the coronavirus, we should not be distracted from fighting this disease by expensive, duplicative, and overtly partisan efforts to score political points,” Rep. Byrne said. “We already have eight oversight committees, plus an Inspector General, capable of investigating the various aspects of our coronavirus response. House Democrats have already wasted millions on meaningless investigations in an effort to remove President Trump from office, and we cannot condone further efforts to waste taxpayer dollars on these politically motivated fishing expeditions.”

Congressman Gary Palmer blamed Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-California) for delaying the PPP replenishment effort.

“Because of the unnecessary delays in passing legislation to help save small businesses and the jobs of the people who depend on them, we need a new acronym: NPPP, for the Nancy Pelosi Political Pause,” Rep. Palmer said. “After holding up passage of the CARES Act, which created the Paycheck Protection Program, Nancy Pelosi callously held up additional funding for almost a week that could have helped small businesses stay open and could have prevented millions of workers from being laid off.”

“I’ve heard too many stories from frustrated business owners who have been unable to access the Paycheck Protection Program due to a lack of an existing relationship with a lender, or difficulty navigating the complex application process,” said Rep. Sewell said. “And these issues are disproportionately harming the rural and minority-owned businesses that make up the heart of my district,” Sewell said on the House floor today. “It was necessary to address this injustice and directly allocate funding to lenders that service the beauty salons, barber shops and restaurants on Main Streets across the country.”

“The Trump Administration formally requested more funding for the Paycheck Protection Program on April 7th, warning that the initial funding was running out,” Palmer complained. “Two days later, April 9th, the effort to get more funding inserted into the program was blocked. One week later, April 16th, the Paycheck Protection Program ran out of money. At that time, there were 700,000 small businesses waiting for funds. Sixteen days after the Trump Administration asked for more funding, and a full week after the initial the Paycheck Protection Program funds ran out, Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats have finally allowed the passage of legislation that will add over $320 billion to the program. Everyone should now be asking themselves this: how many of the 4.4 million American workers who have been laid off from their jobs in the last week would not have lost their jobs if Speaker Pelosi had allowed Congress to increase the funding sooner?”

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“Instead of help, for 16 heart-wrenching days, small businesses and their employees were left in limbo as victims of the NPPP, the Nancy Pelosi Political Pause, knowing that with every passing hour, they were that much closer to losing their jobs and their businesses,” Palmer concluded. “I hope and pray that the funding we approved in this bill is not too late.”

The legislation, Congress’ fourth coronavirus response package, includes $320 billion to make new loans under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which provides forgivable loans to U.S. small business that keep employees on the payroll for eight weeks and has run out of funding.

The Senate passed the legislation by unanimous consent on Tuesday. It now heads to the President’s desk for his signature.

“At a time when many Americans are enduring significant economic challenges, this bill will help small business and keep millions of workers on the payroll,” said President Donald J. Trump (R) on social media.

The top ten countries for COVID-19 deaths are: the USA 50,243, Italy 25,549, Spain 22,167, France 21,856, U.K. 18,738, Belgium 6,490, Germany 5,575, Iran 5,481, China 4,632, and Netherlands 4,177. As of press time 865,709 Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and 50,243 have already died, including 2,342 on Thursday.

The forced economic shutdown was ordered to attempt to slow the spread of the virus. The virus was first identified in December in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China in December. Since then it has killed 191,081 people including 197 Alabamians.

Brandon Moseley is a former reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter.

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