I'm writing this from my kitchen table, where I have been working for most of the week talking with as many folks as possible - farmers, church and school leaders, community leaders, and public health officials. We want to know what folks have, what they need, and what challenges they are facing.
I also spoke this morning with the entire Michigan Congressional delegation as we discussed what we were hearing from our constituents, what ideas we had to overcome the coronavirus crisis, and what we can do to help.
Earlier this week, the President signed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, important bipartisan legislation that provides for:
- Free coronavirus testing for everyone who needs a test
- Two weeks of paid sick leave and up to three months of paid family and medical leave
- Support for food programs, including SNAP, student meals, seniors meals, and food banks
- Enhanced unemployment insurance
- Additional funding for Medicaid to help local and state health systems respond to the coronavirus outbreak
- Increase access to telemedicine services for Medicare beneficiaries
This is yet another step to help workers and families respond to the coronavirus, but, make no mistake, there is more to do.
Yesterday, the Problem Solvers Caucus that I am a part of announced a number of bold, bipartisan recommendations that could provide relief to workers, business owners, and families. We will work to provide direct financial assistance to individuals, provide loans to help businesses stay open, protect food security needs, and stabilize the market. I also had further discussions about providing direct financial assistance to individuals and learned that the U.S. Treasury will be able to process those checks within two to three weeks of enactment. You can learn more about these proposals here.
Earlier this week, I spoke on a conference call with Michigan banking leaders, including community bankers, about how we can all help get the community up and running again. I also spoke with the credit unions. I’m pleased to say that we are looking to provide at least a 90 forbearance on loans, allowing lines of credit to remain open. I expect this to be part of any bipartisan package that the Congress passes.
Today, President Trump also announced that he has put the Defense Production Act into gear. This is good news. We have been urging the Administration to open this stockpile which will help get more Personal Protective Equipment to our medical community, who are literally on the front lines working to keep our nation safe.
Furthermore, the President also announced that folks with federal student loans will automatically have their interest rates set to 0% for at least the next 60 days. And the tax deadline will be moved to July 15, which will help hardworking Americans. But if you’re planning to get a refund, you can still file early and get your money sooner.
The Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) is also encouraging states to cover all telemedicine services and working with them to expand their capability to do so during the COVID-19 outbreak. Rep. Joe Kennedy (D-MA) and I urged CMS to ensure states had the resources and ability to have Medicaid and CHIP recipients receive telemedicine services.
Also, I published a column in the Herald Palladium about the number of resources available and what we're doing at the federal level to help overcome the coronavirus crisis. You can read it here.
Lastly, my office continues to telework but are still working hard to provide excellent constituent services and help folks with federal agencies and challenges. We are actively engaged with helping a number of individuals who have family members overseas. If you need assistance, please feel free to call my Kalamazoo office at (269) 385-0039, my St. Joseph office at (269) 982-1986, or my D.C. office at (202) 225-3761.
Looking ahead, I anticipate the U.S. Senate will move legislation to help families, workers, and businesses by Monday, and we hope the U.S. House can take it up mid-week.
As always, if you are in need of assistance, please feel free to contact my office and we will do our best to help: upton.house.gov/contact.
Stay safe this weekend, and God bless,
Member of Congress
New Tax Deadline - July 15
Today the Administration announced that July 15 is the new tax deadline. I fully support this move. But if you’re planning to get a refund, you can still file early and get your money sooner. We need to get more money in the pockets of workers! Learn more here.
Resources for Veterans
The Department of Veterans Affairs issued new guidance about what the VA is doing to make sure veterans are protected during the coronavirus crisis. Any Veteran with symptoms such as fever, cough or shortness of breath should immediately contact their local VA facility. VA urges Veterans to call before visiting. Learn more here.
URGENT: The Red Cross needs blood donations
The Red Cross is facing a shortage of blood donations after thousands of blood drives across the country have been canceled. You can still donate blood safely during the coronavirus crisis. Learn more here from the Red Cross.
Find meals for children during school closure
An online map has been developed for families to find locations where meals are being provided during this period of school closure.
The map will be updated twice each day during the closure period. Click here to see the map
Downtown Kalamazoo working to protect folks and small businesses
Check out this link from Kalamazoo Downtown Partnership which features some great ways to support local downtown businesses while following social distancing recommendations. Click here for more info.