Spanberger, Kim Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Help Small Businesses, Essential Workers Afford PPE, COVID-19 Testing During Reopening

The Getting Americans Safely Back to Work Act Would Establish a Federal Grant Program for Essential Employers to Purchase Safety Equipment, Help Businesses Restore Consumer Confidence

WASHINGTON, D.C. — As businesses and local governments across the country move towards full reopening, U.S. Representatives Abigail Spanberger (D-VA-07) and Young Kim (R-CA-39) yesterday introduced bipartisan legislation to establish a new grant program that would help small businesses and essential employers acquire personal protective equipment (PPE) and implement other workplace safety measures.

Investments in PPE, testing supplies, and workplace COVID-19 safety training can be costly for small businesses, particularly as they work to meet federal, state, and industry safety guidance. In many cases, businesses and public employers find that high cost of these necessary safety measures is impacting their ability to serve the community, as well as impacting consumer confidence. Additionally, essential employers are concerned that a lack of state funds – combined with a growing burden of debt – makes existing or proposed tools, such as federal and state tax incentives, simply inoperable.

The Getting Americans Safely Back to Work Act would create a federal grant program to provide essential employers with PPE, rapid testing equipment, and other supplies for distribution to essential workers – including public employees. Additionally, grants could be used to support other safety measures for use in the containment and mitigation of COVID-19 transmission in the workplace.

“In conversations with Central Virginia small businesses, restaurants, and local governments, a major concern remains the continued cost of PPE and COVID-19 testing supplies. While these costs are high, employers recognize the importance of making these investments for both the safety of their employees and the health of our communities. In response, the federal government can take concrete steps to help these employers protect their employees and restore consumer confidence,” said Spanberger. “The Getting Americans Safely Back to Work Act would immediately allow our local businesses and municipalities to address some of the financial issues they’re facing as they look to fully reopen. In combination with a strengthened COVID-19 vaccination strategy, these workplace safety measures are commonsense moves to protect our neighbors during this pandemic. I’d like to thank Congresswoman Kim for her partnership on this bipartisan, much-needed bill.”

“As communities across the nation continue to be impacted by COVID-19, it is an immediate and urgent priority to make sure we distribute rapid testing, personal protective equipment (PPE) and other supplies to stop the spread of COVID-19,”said Kim. “I’m proud to join Rep. Spanberger in a bipartisan effort to help state and local health departments, small businesses and other entities receive these essential supplies needed to safely reopen our communities. I’ll continue to do all that I can to protect the public health and safety of our CA-39 community and the nation as we work to safely reopen.”

Specifically, the bipartisan legislation would authorize a $1 billion block grant program — with $250 million of the authorized monies reserved for small businesses — to be administered by the Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to State, Local, Tribal, or Territorial health departments.

“Law Enforcement Officers and other essential workers across Virginia are putting their personal health on the line every day to keep our communities strong and safe,” said Karl S. Leonard, Sheriff, Chesterfield County. “The funding provided in this bill is a necessary step to reducing the risk they face from COVID-19 and allowing them to safely and responsibly fulfill their duties, to include quickly treating and containing an outbreak in a prison or jail. In doing so, this bill benefits our essential workers and our community as a whole.”

“ChamberRVA, Greater Richmond’s Regional Chamber of Commerce, enthusiastically endorses additional federal support for businesses and employers of essential workers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Brian Anderson, President & CEO, ChamberRVA. “The pandemic has created incredible challenges for small businesses specifically. These businesses want to be open, and they want to be safely and responsibly serving their customers and protecting their employees. To do that, they need federal support and a clear path forward for continued recovery. We are grateful to Representative Spanberger and Representative Kim for their efforts in pushing this issue forward.”

“Keeping our health care workers, first responders, and essential workers safe and in a protected environment is critical to mitigating the spread of COVID-19. Testing equipment, personal protection equipment, and other supplies are needed to ensure we have the resources needed to open safely and responsibly. We commend Congresswoman Kim and Congresswoman Spanberger for introducing this legislation in the fight against COVID-19,” said Heidi Gallegos, CEO, Brea Chamber of Commerce.

“I thank Reps. Kim and Spanberger for their work to help our North Orange County businesses and workers obtain rapid tests, personal protective equipment and other supplies to help safely and responsibly reopen our communities. These supplies are essential as we work to protect the public health and safety of Orange County workers, businesses and families,” said Theresa Harvey, President of the North Orange County Chamber of Commerce. 

Click here to read the full bill text.

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