May 29, 2020
@MyKitchenTable: Friday, May 29, 2020
We’ve had some pretty tough news the last week or so. The 100,000 U.S. death threshold was crossed this week; dams burst and evacuated some 10,000 Michiganders from their homes; Minneapolis; and - on the personal side - my congressional staff had our second immediate family member die from COVID-19. Add the chaos of lost economic opportunity to such real hardships for so many innocent victims as we miss the companionship and love of family, peers, neighbors, and friends.
Such a changed way of life for us and the rest of the world, for now.
It’s times like these that we need to remind ourselves of the lyrics...
“When you’re down and out
When you’re on the street
When evening falls so hard
I will comfort you
I’ll take your part, oh, when darkness comes
And pain is all around
Like a bridge over troubled water..."
- More than 15M COVID-19 tests have been performed in the U.S. with a new single-day high of more than 453K yesterday.
- FDA issued an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for the Stryker Respirator Decontamination system that uses vapor hydrogen peroxide to decontaminate N95 respirators for multiple-user reuse, which you can see HERE.
- FEMA has made 1,575 deliveries of medical supplies to nursing homes and are coordinating two shipments totaling a 14-day supply of personal protective equipment to all 15,400 Medicaid and Medicare-certified nursing homes. FEMA, HHS, and the private sector combined have coordinated the delivery of or are currently shipping 92M N95 respirators, 144M surgical masks, 12.5M face shields, 31.2M surgical gowns, and over 1B gloves.
The bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus (PSC) and No Labels (a larger bipartisan group which includes Senators) had a lengthy zoom call providing all of us with an update on the SMART Act, which provides some $500B for States and local units of government that is funded by a formula of population, COVID cases, and loss of revenue to the states — no politics or earmarks. One-third of the money would be allocated to cities and counties with specific restrictions on non-COVID programs. We seem to be gathering momentum for having this issue addressed in the next Senate spending bill. Last month Leader McConnell stated he wanted some liability relief provisions added as well, and those discussions are now just beginning. The House is not likely to return for D.C. legislative activity until the end of next month as we plan “virtual” hearings and perhaps markups.
With yesterday’s overwhelming 417-1 vote allowing for Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) flexibility, I would like to think that the Senate can just accept our bipartisan legislation rather than go to “conference” and iron out the differences when they return next week. For many small businesses that received their loans in the first week or two of the program, the 8 weeks is now up. If they want to convert those loans to grants, they must show that 75% of the loan was used for employee expenses. As I said on the House Floor yesterday, as much as we all wanted to be back to normal by Easter, it has come and gone and many states are still not allowing any real semblance of normal business activity that requires full staffing. That is why we extended the program from 8 to 24 weeks and lowered the threshold to 60% for employee expenses.
As I referenced at the top, much of Midland, Michigan was destroyed by a 500-year flood this past week which was caused by broken dams. The House Energy and Commerce Committee will send on Monday two letters to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and the State of Michigan requesting information as we try and ensure that this does not happen again. As a member of the E&C Committee, I have been working very closely with my Michigan colleagues who also serve on that committee so that not only can we identify the cause, but then develop legislation that will prevent such from happening anywhere again.
Our first photo (taken in January) comes from a Vicksburg student looking forward to attending MSU and their school of jazz this Fall. The second is from a St. Joseph constituent who looks forward to more summer evenings on Lake Michigan with the South Pier just beyond the flag.
If you would like to submit a photo, send it HERE....
Have a safe weekend.
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If you would like to submit photos to share in these Kitchen Table updates of you social distancing, in your masks, working from home, and other photos of how you are keeping safe during the coronavirus pandemic, please click here.