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tv   U.S. Senate Sen. Collins on Coronavirus Bill  CSPAN  March 26, 2020 7:50am-8:08am EDT

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face what they face on the front lines as you go forward and pass this bill. i ask my fool statement be included into the record. i suggest the absence of a quorum. >> mister president, i see the senator from maryland is on the floor and if he would like to go first, given that opportunity. >> i am happy to have you go first. >> all across the country, americans are stepping out in response to the coronavirus pandemic sweeping our nation. doctors and nurses are working endless hours and putting
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themselves at risk to care for the surge of patients. manufacturers in many companies in my state are working overtime, retooling their product lines to produce medical testing, ventilators and personal protective equipment all of which are vitally needed. truckers are going above and beyond, so they can deliver goods to restock, depleted grocery shelves. people are looking out for their neighbors in a safe way checking on them, making personal sacrifices to prevent the virus from spreading to the most vulnerable members of society. help is on the horizon for
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small businesses to end their employees who are facing economic devastation through no fault of their own. i talk to small business owners across the state. the third-generation diner operated and work by the some onus family in maine. for the first time ever in three generations they had to close their doors. they had no choice. we have never been unemployed. our son is unemployed. our friends who have worked with us for years.
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the agreement finally reached today includes $377 billion small business economic relief plan that senator rubio, senator cardin, senator shaheen and i authored as members of the small business task force. it is intended to send small businesses just like the one owned by the family in lewiston. our crew worked day and night to get the bipartisan package included in the broader legislation. i want to do a shout out to our staff, before 5:00 in the morning and any day in the last
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week. that is how hard they worked too. under our bipartisan approach, they would be eligible, 100% federally guaranteed emergency loan to cover eight weeks of payroll as well as certain expenses like rent or mortgage payment and utilities but if businesses keep their employees on the payroll, if they keep issuing paychecks of their loans would be completely forgiven. small employers with 500 employees are fewer are eligible to apply for federally guaranteed loans. certified lenders including
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certain banks, credit unions and other financial institutions. a streamlined process would be created to bring other additional lenders. the size of the loans would be tied to a formula based on small businesses average monthly payroll, back to february 15th, that is when the coronavirus started to come to the country and have an impact. the maximum amount would be $10 million. if one of the small businesses retain their employees and issue those paychecks which keep in mind also means in many cases those employees get their health insurance as well. the portion of the loan used to
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cover payroll and mortgage interests would also be forgiven. furthermore, this is important, to the presiding officers which had large numbers of tourists coming each year. employers or tipped employees would receive forgiveness for the additional wages paid to such employees. workers who already lost their jobs due to this crisis can be rehired and - this final assistance cannot come a moment too soon. they already shutdown on the verge of that, trying to hang on a little longer to avoid
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laying off employees who are like members of their own family. there are members of their own family. without the package, we face an unemployment tsunami, according to the secretary of the treasury. not only would this cause tremendous harm to millions of families but would take a massive toll on the federal budget. far exceeding the $377 billion we are using for this small business assistance program to keep workers paid and employed. to make sure small businesses, when we transcended this crisis, that their employees are still able to come back to
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work for them. we don't want to break that link, that connection. we don't want those small businesses to give up and shudder their doors forever, decimating our downtown and causing permanent job loss for the workers that are so much a part of their business. larger businesses that are facing cash flow issues would be eligible for certain loans so that they can avoid laying off their workers. however, unlike the small business assistance program which would have their loans forgiving as long as they keep their workers employed, the larger businesses would be required to repay these loans in full and i want to make clear that these large
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businesses would be barred from stock buybacks and increasing executive pay for the duration of the loan and i fully support those restrictions. of course, many of those small businesses don't have shareholders so the idea of a stock buyback doesn't exist. some of them, subchapter s, might, but many of them do not. i am also pleased to say we would cover the sole proprietor, the independent contractor, those many individuals we rely upon to make our economy work. mister president, following my advocacy along with members from other coastal states i am also pleased that the bill includes $300 million to assist
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workers and businesses in our nation's fisheries which support thousands of jobs in the great state of maine. with this legislation, harvesters, fishing communities, agriculture operations and other history related businesses will be eligible for this $300 million in assistance which may include some direct relief payment. .. chains. and this targeted relief will help ensure that the families and the coastal communities that depend on our fisheries can emerge from this crisis. similar assistance is provided to our farmers as well. mr. president, this bill also mr. president, this bill also mr. president, this bill also provides more than $30 billion for states, , school districts, colleges and universities to help them meet the unexpected
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expense that have explode from the coronavirus crisis. our schools, our k-12 schools, while at access to 13.5 billion which will help them support remote learning and meeting the needs of their students. and don't want to take a moment to recognize the dedication of those teachers, administrators, school food service workers and bus drivers who are not only making sure that students have access to remote learning, but are making sure that students have accesso to meals off-site. this bill provides funding to help them provide those meals and created -- but, such as delivery prepackaged meals along bus routes or directly to students in their
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homes so that there won't be hungry. we all know how important the school breakfast and school lunch programs are to our low income families. when colleges and universities made the very tough decision to the semester, i spoke with several presidents in maine, and they told me about the steps they were taking to make sure that their students could still receive a quality education, albeit online or remotely. they were also taking steps, as well they should, to reimburse students and their families for rome import and they shortened travel study programs. they are investing in the software and hardware infrastructures to bring classes online quickly. they are doing even more than that, mr. president.
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the university of maine, for example, has partnered with the state to prepare it to dorms and its facilities for emergency uses, if necessary. so the dread day to college and universities is needed to help these institutions offset the sudden revenue losses and unexpected costs. there's also temporary flexibility applied to student aid, to student loans that also will be very helpful. this agreement, mr. president, is not only a lifeline for workers, small businesses and schools, it builds on the previous two packages that congress has passed, to promote the health and safety of americans. it makes substantial investment in our nation'sea health system, biomedical research and
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education, including a $130 billion fusion for our hospitals and healthcare providers that are struggling to cope with this influx of patients, and it provides $20 billion for additional resources for better health care. it authorizes an $11 billion catalyst towards the development of an effective vaccine and therapeutics, effective treatment for those struck by this virus. it provides a billion dollars for committee services block grant to support critical social service programs for millions of low income individuals. it gives the centers for disease control additional funding to enhance vital work. it assists communities responding to greater services with an increase of $5 billion
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blockmmunity development grants that comes from the subcommittee that i chair. it helps with transit systems and widespread help for those who are homeless or among some of the most vulnerable in our population. it strengthens the low income home heating assistance program. that's something that senator jack reed and i have long worked together on. we don'til want families and seniors making impossible choices between heating their homes and buying food or medicine. this package also contains two additional pieces of legislation that i've introduced and championed. first, it contains provisions from the mitigating emergency drugho shortages, or medpac, legislation authored thatt will prevent a shortage of vital
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medication. i was shocked, mr. president, to learn that 72% of the facilities that make vital, active pharmaceutical ingredients for our market here in america are located overseas. 13% of these facilities in china. we just can't have that and we need far greater ability into that supply system. it also contains the bill that i have long advocated for. the improvement act, it will allow nurse practitioners, physician assistants and others to certify patients as dating home health services. now it is just a position that computer even though a physician might not be the primary care provider particularly and rural areas.
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so that will remove needless delays in getting medicare patients the home health care that they need. that's the critical improvement at a time with our healthcare system is being put to the test, and when people are being told they need to stay in their own homes to avoid spreading the virus. the list of benefits that will be felt in communities across the country goes on and on. mr.id president, it's imperative that we passed this bill tonight. d every day more small businesses are forced to close their doors. every day americans are losing their jobs and their income. every day medical professionals are increasingly overwhelmed by theen exponential rise in cases. the package we are voting on to
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advance tonight will bolster our healthcare system, infuse funds into biomedical research that will ultimately produce a vaccine and effective treatments, sure of our economy and our businesses, support those who are unemployed, strengthen the links between employers and their employees, save millions of jobs of those employed by small businesses, and help prevent a devastating recession, perhaps even a depression in this country. let us not squander this momentum when we are so close to getting this done for the american people. i urge my colleagues to join me in passing this critical

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