May 13, 2020
U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) held virtual town halls this week with the Oklahoma Pork Council and the Tulsa Regional Chamber on the COVID-19 response and resources available for families, individuals, small businesses and agriculture producers across the state. Specifically, Inhofe discussed the announcement last month from the Trump administration about steps to alleviate hardships in the agriculture sector with the Oklahoma Pork Council, and talked with the Tulsa Regional Chamber about the next steps for Congress.
A comprehensive list of frequently asked questions associated with COVID-19 can be found here.
The Paycheck Protection Program Increase Act of 2020, a second comprehensive coronavirus relief package, was enacted last month. Inhofe supported the legislation.
This legislation builds on the funding already authorized by the CARES Act, and will bring more than $472 billion in necessary funding to our coronavirus response:
The Paycheck Protection Program Increase Act of 2020 helps Oklahoma’s small businesses:
o Provides over $310 billion to replenish the Paycheck Protection Program, which has saved thousands of Oklahoma small businesses and helped Oklahoma families stay afloat during the COVID-19 crisis.
As authorized by the CARES Act these loans:
§ Are available to any company with under 500 employees,
§ Can be made for up to $10 million,
§ Are reduced by an amount equal to eight weeks of operating expenses (salaries, paid sick leave, rent, utilities),
§ Have payments deferred for the first year.
o Provides $50 billion for SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program and $10 billion for grants, which can provide an advance up to $10,000 of economic relief to businesses that are currently experiencing temporary difficulties due to COVID-19. It also expands eligibility of the loans to include agricultural businesses.
o Provides $2.1 billion for the Small Business Administration to continue helping America families during this time.
The Paycheck Protection Program Increase Act of 2020 helps Oklahoma’s heath care system:
o Provides additional $75 billion in assistance to hospitals, rural health clinics and other providers to ensure comprehensive care is provided to those suffering from the coronavirus. A substantial portion of the funding will be available for providers to add beds, emergency facilities, ventilators and other critical capacities to meet potential requirements.
o Provides additional $25 billion for vaccines, test kits and other preparedness efforts. Specifically, $11 billion of this fund will be set aside for state, local and tribal communities.
Inhofe’s statement on March 25, 2020, after voting in favor of the CARES Act can be viewed here. A detailed list of what the CARES will provide to Oklahoma is below.
The CARES Act helps Oklahoma’s heath care system:
· Provides $100 billion in assistance to hospitals, rural health clinics and other providers to ensure comprehensive care is provided to those suffering from the coronavirus. A substantial portion of the funding will be available for providers to add beds, emergency facilities, ventilators and other critical capacities to meet potential requirements.
· Everyone will receive care—even the underinsured or the uninsured.
· Provides $31 billion for vaccines, test kits and other preparedness efforts. This funding will ensure all testing is provided free of charge to patients. It also streamlines the regulatory process and promotes private sector investment so potential vaccines can be quickly and safely tested—not bogged down in red tape.
· Provides $20 billion for our veteran health care system to care for our nation’s heroes.
· Provides $45 billion for state and local governments to prevent, prepare for and respond to the coronavirus.
· Provides $1 billion for Indian Health Service.
The CARES Act helps the people of Oklahoma:
· Provides $3,400 in cash for the average family of four in Oklahoma to make sure everyone can make ends meet during this difficult time, whether it’s rent, a mortgage, utilities or groceries. Specific amounts include $1,200 for an individual, $2,400 for a couple and $500 for each dependent child.
· Six month deferment of all student loan interest and payments. Additionally, individuals whose student loan payments are made by their employers will not pay taxes on the payments for the remainder of the year.
· Provides up to 39 weeks of unemployment benefits for those who lose their jobs during this crisis.
· Provides a tax credit to incentivize businesses of all sizes to retain employees, even when facing a decline in revenue because of the crisis.
The CARES Act helps Oklahoma’s small businesses:
· Provides $350 billion in loans to small businesses to keep doors open and employees paid. This immediately addresses the major problem with the paid-leave mandate imposed on small businesses last week. By providing loans – with terms that forgive eight weeks of operating expenses including payroll and sick leave—companies will be able to maintain employees without concern for cash crunch the mandate created. These loans:
i. Are available to any company with under 500 employees,
ii. Can be made for up to $10 million,
iii. Are reduced by an amount equal to 8 weeks of operating expenses (salaries, paid sick leave, rent, utilities),
iv. Have payments deferred for the first year.
· Provides grants up to $10,000 for small businesses.
· Defers payments of existing small business loans for six months.
· Provides $23.5 billion for agriculture industry.
The CARES Act also provides support to struggling state and local governments and industries critical to the nation:
· Oklahoma will receive more than $1.25 billion of the $150 billion designated for state and local governments for coronavirus response.
· $29 billion in loans is provided to the airline industry. Additional funds are being made available to ensure aviation jobs, like those at American Airlines Tulsa maintenance facility, are maintained.
· Additional funds are made available to the Secretary of Treasury to provide liquidity to industries particularly hard hit by the coronavirus. All support would include the following good government safeguards: prohibits stock buybacks and dividend payments for a period of time, requirements for companies to keep employees on payroll, freezes executive compensation, creates a Special Inspector General for improved oversight and requires immediate reporting to Congress about who is receiving the loans.