Bennet Presses for Colorado Priorities Ahead of Next Phase of Coronavirus Relief Legislation

In New Letter, Bennet Outlines Bold Proposals to Help Health Care Providers, Small Businesses, Local Governments, Families, and Individuals During the Crisis

Denver – This week, Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet sent a letter to Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) urging them to include key Colorado priorities in any future legislative package Congress considers in response to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.
The letter outlined key reforms to the recently passed Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, such as much-needed fixes to the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program, and called for new funding to relieve state, tribal, and local governments; rural hospitals and providers; and small businesses. Bennet also reiterated his call to expand and strengthen direct cash assistance efforts, including his plan to provide quarterly payments to Americans throughout the duration of the crisis, and ensure children over age 16, college students, and non-child dependents are included in the program. 
“This pandemic has created an unprecedented health and economic crisis for Colorado and our country – one that demands an unprecedented response from the federal government. Although the recent emergency package provided much-needed relief, we need to do a lot more to support Colorado’s families, workers, and health care system,” said Bennet. “After many discussions with frontline doctors and nurses, local governments, small business owners, educators, and struggling families, I’ve put forward several priorities for Colorado that I urge Congress to include in any future legislative relief package. Together, these proposals reflect the scope of the challenge we face and the work we must do to get Colorado and the country through this difficult time.” 
Included in the priorities outlined in his letter: 
Greater Investments in Health Care
  • Direct financial support for rural hospitals and providers by enacting Bennet’s Immediate Relief for Rural Facilities and Providers Act, introduced with U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-Wyo.)
  • Expanding resources for telehealth programs, and testing, vaccination, and treatment coverage  
Increased Funding for State, Local, and Tribal Governments
  • Additional funding to help state, local, and tribal governments weather the crisis and offset lost revenues resulting from the economic slowdown
  • State and local government leaders have called for additional financial assistance in the next stimulus package. Bennet supports this request and has called for both additional support and increased flexibility to allow localities to use previously allocated funds to compensate for revenue losses
  • Clarifying that smaller jurisdictions must receive their fair share of funding, expanding internet access for rural and low-income students, reimbursing paid family leave for local government employees, expanding grant programs for homeless assistance programs, including tribal governments in the relief programs, like the Paycheck Protection Program, and more 
Reforms to the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program
Following concerns with implementation of the program, Bennet called for a number of reforms to strengthen and expand the program, including:
  • Ensuring lenders fully participate in the program and serve a greater number of businesses, including new customers
  • Clarifying program guidelines to ensure small, agricultural producers are eligible for assistance
  • Extending the loan term and forgiveness of non-payroll fixed operating costs to businesses that will disproportionately incur long-term damage from the public health crisis 
  • Providing additional funding to the program to meet the high number of small businesses in need of this relief 
Expanded Direct Cash Assistance for Families and Individuals
  • Asking to include Bennet’s plan to provide $2,000 direct payments to every American (up to an income limit), and continuing direct cash payments for as long as the health and economic crisis continues
  • Expanding the direct cash assistance program to include dependents over age 16, including college students, and other dependent adults; and providing an additional monthly $500 cash benefit for very low-income families for the duration of the crisis
  • Providing hazard pay for workers providing essential services, such as frontline health workers, delivery truck drivers, shelf stockers, cashiers, and others providing critical services during the crisis 
Creation of New Public Health Corps Program
  • Creating a new Public Health Corps program, modeled after President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Civilian Conservation Corps of the New Deal era, to provide employment opportunities to young adults and fill unmet needs in the health care and public health fields as we move toward managing COVID-19 post-crisis
Dedicated Funding for Election Security Ahead of 2020 Elections
  • Providing $1.6 billion in election security grants to support state and local election officials to put in place new systems, policies, and plans to minimize the risk of in-person exposure should the pandemic continue into the fall 
To read Bennet’s full proposal, please find his letter HERE.