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Spanberger Votes to Pass COVID-19 Emergency Relief Package & Government Funding Deal, Includes Spanberger’s Priorities to Support Central Virginia Families, Healthcare Providers, & Small Businesses

Upon Passing the Legislation, the Congresswoman Called for Congress to Take Additional Actions in the Coming Weeks & Months to Support the Nation’s Economic Recovery

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Representative Abigail Spanberger today voted to pass a bipartisan, bicameral emergency relief package in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Earlier this month, Spanberger helped kickstart relief negotiations and craft the bipartisan proposal that led to this legislation.

The bipartisan relief package includes many Central Virginia priorities that Spanberger pushed to incorporate into the bill – such as extended unemployment benefits, strong funding for COVID-19 vaccine distribution, additional loans for small businesses through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), direct payments to individuals, telehealth investments, and assistance to independent entertainment venues. Additionally, the legislation extends the deadline for state and local governments to use Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) awards beyond the end-of-year deadline, allowing Central Virginia communities to continue ongoing COVID-19-related projects.

“This emergency relief legislation has the opportunity to provide Central Virginia families, businesses, healthcare workers, and schools with some degree of peace of mind as we approach the holidays. While additional relief is long overdue, today’s progress should be a sign of hope that Congress can move forward – including under the next administration – in rebuilding our economy, ensuring the swift distribution of vaccines, and safely reopening schools and businesses,” said Spanberger. “I’d like to thank my fellow Members of the Problem Solvers Caucus – as well as our colleagues in the U.S. Senate – for coming together as leaders, hammering out our differences, and refusing to accept complacency in the face of a once-in-a-generation pandemic. This package is just a first step in putting our nation back on a pathway toward recovery, and I’ll be pushing in the coming weeks and months for additional measures that will strengthen our economy, stamp out hunger, protect our most vulnerable neighbors, and combat the continued spread of this deadly virus.”

“ChamberRVA, Greater Richmond’s Regional Chamber of Commerce, enthusiastically endorses additional federal support for businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Brian Anderson, President & CEO, ChamberRVA. “Small businesses across our Nation and specifically in the Richmond region have borne the brunt of the economic distress created by the pandemic. Our small businesses want to be open, and they want to safely and responsibly protect their employees and their customers. To do that, they need continued federal support until our economy is back on its feet – and we thank Rep. Spanberger and her colleagues for their efforts.”

“We are excited to have additional funding opportunity in the Chesterfield region, as we still have businesses that are hanging on by a thread throughout the Commonwealth,” said Danielle MW Fitz-Hugh, President & CEO, Chesterfield County Chamber of Commerce. “The first round of PPP funding allowed businesses to open back up after initial shutdowns, and the second round of PPP funding will help keep them open. The pandemic has created incredible challenges for business but this stimulus package will help us step up to the challenge and be resilient.”

“As a small business owner, I saw firsthand that the PPP loan program served its purpose in helping us stay in business and keep our workers employed,” said David Ogburn, President, Ogburn Construction, Henrico County. “A second round of PPP loans provides us a clear path forward for continued recovery and puts our businesses into a position to once again contribute to our economy. I am grateful to Representative Spanberger for her work in pushing this issue forward.”

“We appreciate the work done by Rep. Spanberger and Congress to recognize the critical shortcomings of broadband access in rural areas that has been even more emphasized during the pandemic,” said Gary Wood, President & CEO, Central Virginia Electric Cooperative & Firefly Fiber Broadband. “With the funding provided in this stimulus package, many more families will have access much sooner to virtual classrooms, remote work, and telemedicine. Broadband access is being recognized as the necessity it has become for all Americans.”

“The CARES Act funding and additional resources sent to localities during the COVID-19 pandemic has been critical to the work we do. We would not be able to work to contain transmission and outbreaks, build relationships with the communities we serve, and provide accurate information to empower our communities,” said Dr. Melissa Viray, Deputy Director, Richmond City & Henrico County Health Departments. “The COVID-19 vaccine brings so much hope to our communities and we are grateful for the additional resources to make them accessible to our communities with the haste the situation deserves.”

"Virginia Loggers Association is grateful to Representative Spanberger and other lawmakers in the House and Senate who supported the relief provision for timber harvesters and timber haulers,” said Ron Jenkins, Executive Director, Virginia Loggers Association. “Our nation's loggers provide the essential products, made from natural, renewable, trees - truly our best and cleanest green energy material. Our loggers in Virginia and across our nation have received a great Christmas gift."

“COVID has demonstrated that broadband is absolutely essential for healthcare, education, and economic development,” said Beth O’Connor, Executive Director, Virginia Rural Health Association. “While telehealth may not be the cure-all for rural healthcare access issues, it can help lower the barriers of transportation and lack of providers in a cost-effective manner.”

“Richmond International Airport (RIC) is thankful for the support of our Congressional delegation in ensuring that the current COVID-19 relief package includes funding to assist airports in dealing with our Nation’s public health emergency,” said Perry J. Miller, A.A.E., I.A.P., President & CEO, Capital Region Airport Commission. “This funding is greatly appreciated and is essential in enabling airports to continue their critical role in the movement of people and cargo during the pandemic.”

The emergency COVID-19 relief package passed today in the U.S. House contains several provisions Spanberger pushed to include, such as:

  • Strengthening funding for COVID-19 vaccine purchase and distribution. The bipartisan package includes nearly $9 billion in urgently needed funds to accelerate the free and equitable distribution of vaccines to Americans as soon as possible. Additionally, the package provides more than $22 billion for states’ efforts to respond to COVID-19 through the purchase of testing supplies, improved public health infrastructure, and investments in other COVID mitigation programs – as well as combatting the disparities facing communities of color in accessing the vaccine. The package also provides $9 billion in support for healthcare providers on the front lines of the pandemic.
  • Extending unemployment insurance (UI). Spanberger has long advocated for Virginians experiencing unemployment to receive additional federal support during this economic crisis, and this package includes a $300 per week UI enhancement for unemployed Americans. Specifically, the bill extends Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) to March 14, 2021 and allows individuals receiving benefits as of March 14, 2021 to continue through April 5, 2021 – so long as the individual has not reached the maximum number of weeks. This provision prevents unemployment benefits from expiring on December 26, 2020. Spanberger pushed for additional UI in the package she helped craft and introduce earlier this month.
  • Supporting Central Virginia small businesses and restaurants through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)  and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program. The bipartisan package includes more than $284 billion in forgivable first and second round loans through the PPP program — as well as expanded PPP eligibility for nonprofits, local newspapers, and local TV and radio broadcasters. Earlier this year, Spanberger cosponsored legislation to create a second round of funding for small businesses – and the bipartisan framework Spanberger helped craft in September 2020 with the Problem Solvers Caucus laid the groundwork for additional PPP funding. For smaller businesses, the legislation includes $20 billion for targeted EIDL grants.
  • Making commonsense reforms to the PPP program. Spanberger has long pushed for changes to the PPP program that better reflect the financial challenges facing restaurants, and this legislation includes critical modifications to support restaurants as they look to apply for and receive PPP loans, including a change in the award formula to recognize the unique payroll restrictions of independent restaurants. Additionally, the package reverses rulings from the U.S. Treasury Department and allows PPP forgivable loans to still count towards tax deductions. Spanberger advocated for this change earlier this month.
  • Increasing support for food and hunger initiatives. The Spanberger-supported legislation includes $13 billion – a 15 percent increase in funding – for increased SNAP and child nutrition benefits. Earlier this year, Spanberger sent a letter to U.S. House and U.S. Senate leadership calling for a 15 percent expansion of SNAP benefits in any year end package.
  • Providing direct payments to Central Virginia families. The package passed in the U.S. House today includes a new round of direct payments worth up to $600 per adult and child.
  • Extending the Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) deadline. Following Spanberger’s push for this fix earlier this month, the legislation extends the deadline for Virginia to use awards from the CRF to December 31, 2021. In Virginia, communities have used CRF dollars to invest in wide-ranging COVID-19-related projects — including boosting testing and contact tracing efforts, strengthening high-speed internet connectivity, and improving ventilation in public schools.
  • Increasing assistance for schools and daycares. The bipartisan package includes $82 billion in funding for colleges and schools, as well as $10 billion for childcare assistance to help get Central Virginia parents back to work and keep childcare providers open.
  • Providing relief to Central Virginia’s forestry industry. The legislation includes up to $200 million in funding to support timber harvesting and timber hauling businesses impacted by COVID-19. Spanberger is a cosponsor of the Logger Relief Act, which directs the U.S. Department of Agriculture to make payments to a timber harvesting business or timber hauling business that, as a result of COVID-19, has experienced significant revenue losses.
  • Protecting live entertainment venues. Earlier this month, Spanberger fought to include the Save Our Stages Act in this bicameral relief package. The legislation passed today in the U.S. House includes $15 billion in dedicated funding for live venues, independent movie theaters, and cultural institutions.
  • Strengthening funding for rural broadband infrastructure investments and telehealth. Spanberger has long called for increased federal investment in rural broadband internet projects amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and this bipartisan bill invests $7 billion to increase access to high-speed internet – including a new Emergency Broadband Benefit to help millions of students, families, and unemployed workers better access reliable internet during and beyond the pandemic. Additionally, the package includes nearly $250 million in additional federal funding to expand telehealth services in the face of the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. Earlier this year, Spanberger led a bipartisan effort calling on Congress to include critical funding for telehealth expansion in the upcoming COVID-19 relief package.
  • Protecting the homes and livelihoods of Central Virginia families. The bipartisan package strengthens the Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) to help increase affordable housing construction and provide greater certainty to new and ongoing affordable housing projects. Additionally, the agreement makes sure families who faced unemployment or reduced wages during the pandemic are able to receive a strong tax credit based on their 2019 income – and it provides necessary emergency rental assistance funding and prevents eviction moratorium provisions from expiring at the end of this year
  • Securing funding for mental health services. 2020 marked the worst year on record for overdoses in Virginia. The bipartisan package provides $4.5 billion in mental health funding, including $1.6 billion for the Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant Program and $50 million for suicide prevention programs. Spanberger – a Member of the Freshmen Working Group on Addiction – joined a bipartisan group of members in urging leadership to include the highest possible amount of funding for these lifesaving services in the relief package.

BACKGROUND

Spanberger has consistently pushed for a negotiated COVID-19 relief package that can make it to the President’s desk and be signed into law. Earlier this month, she called on the Trump Administration and congressional leadership in both parties to recommit to the passage of a negotiated COVID-19 relief package before the end of the year.

In October 2020, Spanberger voted against the partisan Heroes Act 2.0 and called for leadership in both parties to come to an agreement on COVID-19 relief that could be approved by the U.S. Senate and be signed into law by President Trump. Additionally, she pushed House Democratic leadership to accept a relief offer from U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin that would provide much-needed assistance to working families, coordinated testing efforts, state and local governments, and small businesses.

And in September 2020, Spanberger joined her fellow Members of the Problem Solvers Caucus to unveil the caucus’ bipartisan “March to Common Ground” framework to help break the gridlock on the latest COVID-19 relief package. 

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