Before COVID-19 reached our shores, we had one of the greatest economies our country had ever seen. As we work to defeat the coronavirus, House Republicans and the Trump administration are working to rebuild our economy and ensure that our country comes back stronger than ever.
It’s no secret that COVID-19 has affected almost every facet of our economy. Workers have lost their jobs, small business owners have seen their dreams threatened, and businesses everywhere have faced incredible challenges. In March, Congress created the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) as part of the CARES Act. This program provided forgivable loans to small businesses to keep their employees on the payroll, and over 80,000 jobs in Northeast Tennessee alone were saved thanks to the PPP. While this program was an outstanding success, workers and business across the country still need support. The PPP ceased issuing new loans to businesses on August 8, yet the coronavirus continues to hurt jobs and businesses across the country.
It’s clear that our country needs more relief, but for months Speaker Pelosi has refused to hold votes on bipartisan coronavirus relief legislation. Instead, she has repeatedly put forward partisan legislation that has no chance of becoming law. Enough is enough. The American people can’t wait for Congress to play political games. That is why this week I signed a discharge petition to bring H.R. 8265, the PPP Extension Act, to the House floor for a vote. If 218 Members of the House sign the discharge petition, then H.R. 8265 will receive a vote.
The PPP Extension Act would be a lifeline to workers and business across the country. This bill frees up $138 billion in PPP funding and extends the program through the end of the year. This would not be new funding for the PPP but instead would use funding that was allocated by Congress but never spent. This bill would allow business with fewer than 300 employees to apply for a second loan if they demonstrate at least a 25 percent reduction in gross revenues. The PPP Extension Act will help ensure that workers remain employed and business continue to have the resources they need to get back on their feet.
As we rebuild our economy, we must also take steps to ensure that our country can respond to challenges like the COVID-19 in the future. We learned a tough lesson in the early days of this crisis when China threatened to cut off the supply of medicine to our country. While this ultimately didn’t happen, it became very clear how important it is to our national security to be able to produce medicine and medical supplies domestically. That is why I proudly cosponsored H.R. 7841, the American PPE Supply Chain Integrity Act, and H.R. 6708, the Securing America’s Medicine Cabinet Act. H.R. 7841 would require the federal government to purchase medical supplies and PPE from American companies, and H.R. 6708 would bring pharmaceutical manufacturing back to the U.S. Relying on countries like China leaves us vulnerable during crises, and these bills will help ensure that we are no longer at the mercy of hostile actors during times of crisis.
Ultimately, our ability to rebuild our economy depends on our ability to successfully fight and defeat COVID-19. Americans need to have the confidence that they can go to work, visit their parents and grandparents, and send their kids to school without the risk of getting their loved ones sick. Thanks to the Trump administration’s Operation Warp Speed, we are well on our way to developing a COVID-19 vaccine, which will help make all that possible. Last week, the fourth vaccine candidate entered Phase 3 clinical trials. In this final phase of testing, this vaccine will be tested on up to 60,000 volunteers to ensure that it is safe and effective. This is great news because the more vaccine candidates we have, the better our chances are of successfully producing a vaccine. Last Friday, I spoke with officials at the National Institutes of Health and virtually toured their facilities to learn more about how we’re developing a vaccine. I am more confident than ever that we are following good, sound science to produce a safe – and effective – vaccine.
House Republicans and the Trump administration are working around the clock to defeat COVID-19 and ensure America comes back stronger than ever. Together, we can rebuild our economy and begin to restore our way of life.