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Spanberger Calls for Direct Payments to American Workers, Strong Support for Central Virginia Small Businesses in Upcoming Coronavirus Emergency Economic Relief Package

Washington, March 22, 2020

HENRICO, V.A. – U.S. Representative Abigail Spanberger today is calling on the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives to provide immediate relief to Central Virginia workers and small businesses as the coronavirus pandemic threatens the region’s communities and economy.

In a Medium article posted today, Spanberger outlined her support for direct payments to American workers, expanded unemployment insurance, and strong financial assistance to small businesses impacted by the ongoing public health emergency. Additionally, Spanberger urged lawmakers to impose strong conditions on financial assistance delivered to large corporations in the upcoming coronavirus emergency economic relief package.

Click here to read her Medium post. The full text is also printed below.

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The coronavirus has brought our communities and world to a standstill. We suddenly find ourselves adjusting to a new routine: our children are not in school, businesses remain shuttered, essential service workers attempt to keep our groceries and pharmacies stocked, healthcare workers respond furiously to the crisis, and families and friends stay physically apart to stay safe.

This pandemic will have profound, yet-to-be-known impacts on our society and economy. As unemployment filings rise and states go into lock-down mode, we need to pursue investments and policies that will help our nation’s workers and small businesses, as they are the ones who will lead our recovery in an otherwise uncertain future.

The threat posed by COVID-19 requires decisive and significant actions to protect American lives and slow the virus’ spread.

In Congress, we must take significant action and deliver an emergency relief package that makes real investments in our nation’s ability to recover from the impact of this pandemic — and that begins with the American worker.

Congress’ relief package should provide direct, financial assistance to Americans.

The instability of this pandemic makes it unclear who will need help over the coming months to maintain basic expenses — primarily housing and food costs, and providing direct assistance will ensure that all who need help receive it.

However, recognizing that not all Americans will need assistance, we should pursue a proposal whereby higher earners repay their received assistance based on future tax filings, and higher-income earners who do not face instability may opt out of receiving payments.

To further help the American workforce during this dire moment, we must expand unemployment insurance benefits, raise the payment limits, and expand eligibility to ensure that all workers — including gig workers — have access to the resources that will help them survive and rebuild.

Half of all American workers are employed by a small business, and to help American workers and rebuild from the impact of this pandemic, we must pursue a series of commonsense steps in the upcoming federal relief package that address the needs of our small businesses.

Congress must make grants and forgivable loans available to these businesses.

Many businesses, especially those that operate on small margins, will never be able to make up for the revenue they’ve lost during the pandemic, and grants and forgivable loans are vital to their ability to cover their expenses.

Additionally, we should eliminate penalties for unpaid taxes and consider freezing unemployment insurance rates at January 2020 levels — so that our nation’s small businesses can receive some degree of relief.

While our priority must be to help the American worker and small business, as Congress considers financial assistance to large businesses, we must require that any large company receiving taxpayer-funded support commit to not raising executive compensation packages, buying back stock, or paying dividends until their loans are fully repaid. For any large businesses eligible for loan forgiveness, it should be required that they not engage in these activities for a set period of time.

In the battle against the coronavirus and its impact on our country, there is zero room for delay. As we continue our negotiations in the U.S. House and U.S. Senate, I will continue to advocate for immediate and bold relief to our nation’s workforce and small businesses.

Our economic and societal recovery begins right on Main Street.

As the Representative for Virginia’s Seventh District, I am committed to helping us navigate our way through this crisis.

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On Friday, Spanberger announced that the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) issued Disaster Declarations for all 10 Seventh District counties and has opened an application portal for Central Virginians to apply for Economic Injury Disaster Loans.

With this designation, Central Virginia businesses can now apply for low-interest, emergency loan assistance through the SBA. Applicants are encouraged to apply online at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/ or call the SBA at 1-800-659-2955.

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