6-5-2020 Re-Opening America Update
Latest Coronavirus Update from Congressman Jeff Duncan:
I’ve sent several COVID-19 related emails over the last few months, and I hope you’re also staying updated through my COVID-19 Resources page. Below is some new information I thought you might find helpful.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics has released the May jobs report! There was an increase of 2.5 million jobs and our unemployment rate dropped from 14.7% to 13.3% in just one month. Incredible news! Many economists previously predicted there would be 7.5 million job losses and our unemployment rate would rise to 19.2% in May. Talk about beating the odds! It’s important to note the substantial increase in jobs and lower unemployment rate came as several states implemented their reopening processes last month. We NEED to keep it up! Americans want to get back to work, stimulate our economy, and return to some normalcy! For more information, read THIS update from the White House.
Paycheck Protection Program
I’m pleased to announce the Senate has passed the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act, which passed the House last week. I proudly supported this legislation as it offers greater flexibility to small businesses that have been approved for PPP loans. Specifically, the bill extends the time period that businesses must 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. Small businesses are the backbone of our economy, so it’s important that we do everything we can to support them in their recovery from COVID-19. This legislation is now on the way to the White House for President Trump to sign into law.
Energy and Commerce COVID-19 Hearing
The Energy and Commerce Committee held our first virtual hearing earlier this week. I would have preferred for it to have taken place in person, but unfortunately my Democrat colleagues wouldn’t allow it. This hearing was conducted by the subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations. We invited three Governors – from Arkansas, Colorado, and Michigan – to testify before the subcommittee on their response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The hearing emphasized what we already know - each state has had different needs and therefore has reacted to the pandemic differently. However, as we’ve all learned more about COVID-19 as a nation over time, and Congress and the Administration have provided states with the necessary resources to fight COVID-19 and guidance on how to safely reopen, I’ve been fully supportive of our nation’s Governors reopening more of the economy. Americans want our nation back on track!
South Carolina Disaster Assistance
FEMA disaster assistance is still available for homeowners, renters, and business owners whose home or property was damaged by the April 13th storms in Aiken, Barnwell, Berkeley, Colleton, Hampton, Marlboro, Oconee, Orangeburg, and Pickens counties. The deadline to apply is June 30, 2020. Please visit disasterassistance.gov or call the FEMA helpline at 800-621-3362 or TTY 800-462-7585 for more information.
If you do not qualify for FEMA disaster assistance, you may be eligible for Physical and Economic Injury Disaster Loans through the Small Business Administration (SBA). As of May 28th, the SBA has approved $2,358,000 in disaster loans for storm survivors in South Carolina. For more information on how to apply, please visit https://disasterloanassistance.sba.gov/s/ or contact the Virtual Disaster Loan Outreach Center/Business Recovery Center (VDLOC/VBRC) for one-on-one assistance from a customer service representative. The VDLOC/VBRC is available Monday through Friday 8am-5pm and can be reached by email at FOCE-Help@sba.gov or by phone at 470-363-5611, 202-803-3307, 404-909-1549 and 470-363-5936.
Expanding Rural Broadband
This week I joined my South Carolina colleagues in sending a bipartisan letter to House and Senate leadership urging them to expand broadband access in rural communities. This is an issue I’ve long been behind, and the COVID-19 pandemic has added a sense of urgency for Congress to get it done! As we’ve transitioned over the last few months to virtual classrooms, virtual doctor visits, etc. it’s crucial that we pursue efforts to ensure all Americans have broadband access. Read the full letter HERE.
South Carolina National Guard
About 450 members of the South Carolina National Guard were called to Washington, DC to perform civil disturbance support in the vicinity of Lafayette Park (the area directly north of the White House), which has been home to some of the most violent protests in the city. To date, over 50 United States Park Police Officers have been injured and 11 Secret Service Agents have been hospitalized due to attacks from rioters. I’m pleased to report that none of our SCNG personnel currently deployed in DC have suffered severe injuries from the rioters. However, two SCNG members were taken to the hospital last night due to their proximity to a lightning strike in the area, but were thankfully reported to be in stable condition. Please join me in praying for the continued safety for the Guardsmen who have been activated and our law enforcement officers.
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