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@MyKitchenTable - May 28, 2020

@MyKitchenTable: Thursday, May 28, 2020

Dear Friend:

The day never quit. I was very glad for the “mute” button because I was on multiple conference calls at the same time!

ImageToday’s KT report coming to you from D.C., where we just passed our bipartisan bill to improve the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). Remember this program provided a real lifeline to our small businesses, without a doubt. If you’re a small business and you allocated 75% of the loan money that you received for employees’ salaries, health care, etc., the loan would become a grant. Many of us wanted to be open by Easter. That hasn’t happened, and many small businesses are still closed, making it impossible for them to meet the terms that would convert the loan to a grant. So without this bill, the PPP would have been an anchor that would have taken small businesses to the very bottom. Our bipartisan bill instead makes common sense reforms to make sure the PPP remains a lifeline for our businesses. This bill reduces to 60% the amount required to meet employee benefits and extends the loan forgiveness timeline from eight weeks to 24 weeks, as it is apparent that our economy will not be fully running. I spoke on the House floor encouraging my colleagues to support this bill, which you can watch HERE, and it passed with broad support, 417-1. A great bipartisan win!

The House also voted (I was a YES vote) on a bill to increase transparency on how the funding for the PPP is being distributed. It needed 2/3 of the vote to pass, which it did not get.

I also did a call with our local school superintendents about the challenges that our schools are facing during the Covid-19 crisis. On that call, I asked our superintendents to give me their sense about what percentage of households do not have access to broadband services, which is so important as students take classes online now. In Kalamazoo, they estimated 40 percent of households did not have access. In Schoolcraft, 25 – 30% did not have access to broadband. In 2020, you cannot live without access to broadband services.

That’s why I joined my colleague Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-SC) to introduce the Rural Broadband Acceleration Act, which will help speed up access to high-speed internet in rural America. We did a press conference call with national and local media to discuss our bipartisan bill, which directs the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to fund shovel-ready, high-speed internet projects immediately, so consumers can access broadband within a year. You can read more about our bill HERE.

Some more news:

  • FDA provided flexibility to farms regarding eligibility for the qualified exemption under the Produce Safety Rule during the COVID-19 public health emergency.  Farms that are currently eligible for the qualified exemption and associated modified requirements will still be considered eligible, even if they shift sales away from qualified end-users, so long as they continue to meet the requirement that their average food sales during the previous three years total less than $500K. You can read more HERE.
  • FDA issued an Emergency Use Authorization in response to concerns relating to insufficient supply and availability of gowns and other apparel, such as operating room shoe covers, for use by health care personnel, which you can see HERE.
  • FEMA announced that the federal government will distribute non-contact infrared thermometers to support phased reopening.  The thermometers should be used in accordance with CDC guidance for businesses and employers and OSHA guidance for preparing workplaces for identifying potentially ill individuals. FEMA will coordinate initial distribution and delivery. Local governments can make requests of states, with states making requests of FEMA Regions through the FEMA Resource Request Form process. More info HERE.
  • In support of the statewide efforts to increase testing for COVID-19 across Michigan, especially amongst vulnerable populations, Berrien County officials partnered with the Michigan National Guard and Michigan State Police in testing Berrien County Jail inmates and staff as well as residents and staff at long-term care facilities. Read more HERE.
  • You can sign up to also receive helpful news updates from the state of Michigan’s Emergency Operations Center HERE.

ImageToday’s first photo is from CSPAN while I was speaking on the House floor in support of the PPP Flexibility Act. Our constituent photo is from a constituent in Holland, who sent us a photo of downtown Holland a few days ago that included an important reminder: “Wash your hands!” TY for sharing. If you’d like to submit a photo, please click HERE.

After today’s bipartisan effort to help small businesses, our inspiration is from minister and professor H.E. Luccock: “No one can whistle a symphony. It takes a whole orchestra to play it.”

Heading home to Michigan this evening.


God Bless,

Fred Upton

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