Upton, Problem Solvers group releases bold, bipartisan plan to help workers and families respond to coronavirus crisis
St. Joseph, Mich., March 19, 2020 | Josh Paciorek (202-313-2643)
ST. JOSEPH, Mich. – U.S. Rep. Fred Upton (R-St. Joseph) today helped release a bipartisan, bold coronavirus response plan aimed at helping workers, families, and businesses. The legislative package – supported by the Problem Solvers Caucus, of which Upton is a co-vice chair – includes proposed actions to revive the economy, secure health care and food security needs, and stabilize the markets.
“The Problem Solvers’ proposal is a commonsense, bipartisan package that would provide critical assistance to workers and families and help businesses large and small mitigate the impacts of the coronavirus,” Upton said. “This is about trying to put humpty dumpty back together again. All options should be on the table as we work to protect the well-being of the American people and economy. This bold plan does both. Our nation is facing a generational challenge, and the package we put together will help us overcome this crisis and rally once it’s over.”
Specifically, the bipartisan recommendations include:
Economic Revival for Individuals and Businesses:
• Immediate, Direct Financial Assistance to Individuals: Limited only to the crisis, significantly increase unemployment insurance benefits, including payment amounts, for hourly and salaried workers, under a certain income threshold. This relief should focus on mid-to-low-income workers and cover furloughed workers.
• Loans to Help Keep Businesses in Business: Low-or-zero-interest loans to businesses of all sizes willing to keep their employees (furlough, but preserving benefits) in their positions during the coronavirus crisis. Must include long-term repayment options, and not exclude any industries.
• Contract and Insurance Protections for Existing Contract and Business Insurance Policies: Legislatively declare the coronavirus a public health crisis, and, as such, a qualifying event for all existing force majeure contract provisions and business interruption insurance policies.
• Loan Deferral and Forbearance: Develop and allow loan deference, modification, and forbearance mechanisms for individuals and businesses of all sizes, during the crisis (e.g. mortgages, lines of credits, student loans, and other qualifying loans). Regulators should alert financial institutions that such loan actions will not adversely impact the leverage and other requirements of such oversight.
• Protect Credit Ratings: During the crisis, suspend negative credit reporting information to credit bureaus.
• Supply Chain: We need to address issues facing larger businesses and manufacturers, including the availability of increased liquidity and limited disruptions to the supply chain. Solutions may include involvement from federal resources to maintain logistical operations.
• Federal Reserve: Deploy and utilize tools to help stabilize the market and increase activity, including rate cuts and additional liquidity injections.
• Refundable Tax Credit to Employers for Employee Retention: During the crisis, provide immediately advanceable, refundable tax credits for employee retention by employers -- including maintaining employment status or providing benefits for furloughed employees.
• Housing: During the national crisis, stay all foreclosure and evictions proceedings.
Health Care and Food Security Needs
• Speed Testing to Market: Provide additional regulatory relief at FDA and CDC for market-based testing solutions and essential supplies (e.g. testing kits, ventilators, PPEs, reagent supply, and hospital conversion).
• Health Screenings: Possible immunity for business owners who would like to conduct health screenings prior to service.
• Food Security: Additional funding for SNAP and EBT to allow families to continue to put food on the table during this uncertain time.
• Education Regulatory Relief: Testing waivers and other regulatory relief in the education space.
• Childcare Enhancement: Reflecting new work and school environment, enact childcare assistance policies and regulatory relief to provide childcare coverage during term of crisis.
• Price Gouging: Enact applicable measures to strictly enforce anti-price gouging measures.
• Medical Personnel and Supplies: Where available, deploy federal government excess medical personnel and equipment capacity, including military sources (e.g. vents), to affected areas needing service.
• GI Benefits: Correct the technical glitch, so that, during the this time of crisis, veterans can utilize GI benefits for online learning.
• Participation and Open Debate Essential: To whatever extent possible, as we take significant action solutions, we should strive for open debate and participation to achieve a final recorded vote on legislative action.
Stabilization of the Markets
• Protecting Manipulation in the Market: During the term of the crisis, regulations intended to prevent nefarious manipulation of the markets shall be strictly enforced.