5-29-2020 Re-Opening America Update
Latest Coronavirus Update from Congressman Jeff Duncan:
I wanted to give you some quick updates on several issues I thought you might find helpful.
Despite continued increases in unemployment, we are starting to see some positive economic signs as we begin to re-open. Many retailers are reporting stronger than expected sales numbers due to pent up demand. Hotels are reporting increases in occupancy as people begin to travel further away from home. Employers who issued furloughs earlier in the pandemic are beginning to recall their workers. These are all important indicators that we are moving in the right direction and beginning to get our economy back on track. Throughout the pandemic I have heard from a variety of businesses that have been impacted in unique and challenging ways. If you or your business is facing a particular problem, please do not hesitate to reach out to my office. We are all in this together!
The United States has performed over 15 million COVID-19 tests total, which is 2 million more since my email update from last week. Also, in South Carolina, we’ve already exceeded our goal set earlier this month to conduct 110,000 COVID-19 tests by May 31. We’re making great progress!
If you think you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, be sure to check out THIS guidance from SC DHEC on “What to Do if you Feel Sick (COVID-19)”
Several providers in South Carolina are offering FREE online COVID-19 health assessments. For a list of telehealth virtual care providers, click HERE.
For an updated list of COVID-19 Screening and Testing Sites offered in South Carolina, click HERE.
It’s also important to note that SC DHEC is setting up mobile and popup COVID-19 testing clinics across several counties in the state. As we continue to ramp up our COVID-19 testing efforts, DHEC is working to ensure rural and underserved communities have access to testing. These COVID-19 testing clinics are FREE. Be sure to check out DHEC’s schedule HERE to find out when a site will be near you.
South Carolina Unemployment Insurance Benefits
Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) is now available for South Carolinians. If you’ve exhausted your regular Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits, you can now apply for PEUC through the South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce (DEW). PEUC will extend unemployment benefits for up to 13 weeks. For more information on how to apply, please visit SC DEW’s website HERE.
Paycheck Protection Program
The House recently passed H.R. 7010, the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act of 2020 with my support. This legislation offers greater flexibility to small businesses that have been approved for PPP loans to create an easier road to recovery from COVID-19. Specifically, it extends the time period that businesses have to use the loan in order to receive forgiveness, increases the percentage of the loan that can be used for non-payroll expenses, and ensures access to payroll tax deferment. More details on the bill are available HERE.
I’m confident in the negotiations between the House and Senate on PPP and hope for a swift agreement so that small businesses can get back on their feet as soon as possible!
USDA Coronavirus Food Assistance Program
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently launched the application for the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP). The CFAP will provide direct relief to farmers and ranchers that have been negatively impacted by COVID-19. For more information and to view the application, click HERE.
Supporting our National Guard
Thousands of National Guard service members have been actively involved in the COVID-19 response across the United States - providing support for testing, logistics and warehouse distribution, planning for Emergency Operations Centers, homelessness outreach, caring for vulnerable COVID-19 positive patients, and more. Their hard work has been critical as we continue to fight the coronavirus and reopen our country.
That’s why I joined my colleagues in signing a bipartisan letter to President Trump, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, and FEMA Administrator Peter Gaynor requesting the administration to reciprocate the level of support the National Guard has shown our country over these last several months. It’s important that we ensure these members of the National Guard who have been on the front lines of COVID-19 receive the federal benefits they’ve rightfully earned through their service.
View the letter HERE.
Proxy Voting Lawsuit
This week was the first time the House of Representatives has ever had the option to vote by proxy. Not only is proxy voting the ultimate power grab by Speaker Pelosi and House Democrats, but it’s blatantly unconstitutional. The constitution requires a quorum – which means 218 Members (so long as there are no vacancies) must be physically present in order to conduct official business in the House. For over 200 years – through wartimes, the Spanish Flu, 9/11 – It has been required and expected that Members of Congress be physically present on the House floor in order to cast their votes. With this new proxy voting scheme, 20 members could control the votes of 220 members and pass a bill.
I’m proud to be a plaintiff in the recently filed lawsuit against Speaker Pelosi to block the House’s ability to vote by proxy. This egregious new rule must be shut down! See an overview of the lawsuit HERE.
Food Security is national security and it’s important that during the COVID-19 pandemic, we make it easy on local farmers to serve their consumers. I’m a proud cosponsor of H.R. 2859, the Processing Revival and Intrastate Meat Exemption (PRIME) Act. This bill rolls back federal bureaucratic red tape surrounding meat processing, giving small farmers and ranchers more freedom to serve local consumers what they want. Read the bill HERE.
I recently introduced new legislation - H.R. 6969, the Telling Everyone the Location of data Leaving the United States Act or the “TELL” Act. This legislation would prevent China and their state-owned entities from storing, exposing, and transferring the personal data of American citizens without disclosure. American consumers have the right to know who has access to their data and how it’s used. It’s important that Congress stay up to date in the rapidly changing world of technology in order to regulate appropriately. I am proud to author this legislation and hope that because of it, Americans feel empowered to make informed decisions about the information they choose to share online.
For more information, view my full statement HERE.
Stay In The Know
For the most expedited constituent service, please do not reply directly to this email. Send me an email HERE so I can get in touch with you as fast as possible. Also, don’t forget to visit my COVID-19 Resources page HERE and follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for daily updates. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if I can be of assistance to you and your family during this time.