Before this pandemic really raised its ugly worldwide head, I started reading an outstanding saga on Churchill’s WWII, “The Splendid and the Vile” by Erik Larson. The opening starts with Churchill’s words at Neville Chamberlain’s eulogy...”It is not given to human beings—happily for them, for otherwise life would be intolerable—to foresee or to predict to any large extent the unfolding course of events.”
We have all been warned that this week would be the worst, and we should prepare for great suffering.
After making calls throughout the weekend to check-in with folks, I was so pleased to hear Vice President Pence say, “Michigan and Illinois are in the forefront of our thinking...And at the President’s direction, we’re going to make sure the people of Illinois, the people of Michigan have the resources, equipment and support that they need.”
Pence later detailed conversations he had with our Governor and Detroit Mayor Duggan, who noted they would be getting five Abbott testing machines and 5,000 testing kits that can be used for our first responders and health workers.
It is so imperative that all of our elected leaders work together in a bipartisan effort. I complimented our Governor for putting any rift behind us on statewide radio early this morning. That has been my focus as we network ideas and solutions for our great state.
A number of observations today...
GOP Whip Steve Scalise participated in an hour-long conference call with the bipartisan Problem Solver’s Caucus (PSC). It was a very positive call focused primarily on the “workings” of the CARES Act and the distribution of the $350 billion PPP SBA program designed to work through our local lenders to keep our small businesses and their employees afloat. The first day of applying for these loans that can be converted to grants occurred Friday. My staff and I handled many calls throughout the weekend to try and iron out kinks which still exist but should get better every day this week (no national numbers were released by late afternoon today as there are still issues). However, one local lender told me that they were able to get 61 loans accepted with $13.9 million in approved loans and expected to be well over 70 with $16 million by COB today.
I later helped host a conference call with SW Michigan First members and two top Small Business Committee staff members answering detailed questions from members relating to the PPP program.
To me, there is no question that the $350 billion PPP program will be soon over-subscribed - already “Phase IV” looks to refurbish programs like this with a new infusion. The PSC conference call confirmed that both Democrats and Republicans were strongly in favor of supporting more funding. Scalise also confirmed that the Treasury was looking to establish a clearinghouse to accept a bundling of loans primarily by community bankers so that their overall lending liquidity limits would not be exceeded.
Furthermore, Scalise confirmed that individual checks should be automatically deposited for about half of the eligible folks within one-and-a-half weeks.
We have a wonderful Red Cross organization in SW Michigan. They have canceled some 83 blood drives the last several weeks and through the end of April. Anecdotally, it appears that some of our major health systems are “ok” with their blood supply as many surgeries and other needs have been greatly reduced, but I will keep an eye on that issue.
Finally, please note, the pictures heralding our health care workers during National Public Health Week which started today. As much as I would like to personally drive by and honk with my appreciation, they will be on our website all week. A big TY!!
There is no question that we need more Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) for not only our health care workers, but first responders, grocery stores, etc. Needless to say, it is a huge challenge which really does require us “non-essentials” to stay indoors and lock the virus out. We should all know the drill by now, right?!! Thank you to you all that are trying your valiant best. Hugs from afar....
God bless, always.
Member of Congress
RESOURCES FOR SOUTHWEST MICHIGAN
TOMORROW AT 2:50 PM: Join our Teletown Hall
Tomorrow, April 7 at 2:50 PM, I will host a teletown hall on the coronavirus. I'll share a brief update on what we're doing at the federal level, and then we will open it up for questions. Berrien County Sheriff Paul Bailey and Health Officer Nikki Britten will be on the call, too. In addition, we'll have a representative from the Federal Trade Commission on the call to discuss ways consumers can protect themselves from coronavirus scams. I hope you can join the call. If you'd like to, please dial 877-228-2184 and then enter 119136#.
UPDATE ON THE PAYCHECK PROTECTION PROGRAM
My office and I have been working through the weekend to help small businesses and sole proprietorships apply for the Paycheck Protection Program. On Friday, April 10, 2020 independent contractors and self-employed individuals will be able to apply. Click here to learn more. If you need any assistance, please contact my office.