WASHINGTON, DC - Saying that the bill contained numerous important provisions that he and his Democratic colleagues fought hard to include, Rep. Albio Sires (D-NJ-08) voted in favor of an interim stimulus package, the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act, that went before the House of Representatives Thursday.

The bill funds and improves the previously enacted Paycheck Protection Program, setting aside $60 billion, of the $310 billion appropriated for the program, for small businesses in underserved areas including many minority-owned ones. It also provides $50 billion for the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Program and $10 billion for the EIDL Grant Program. Additionally, the bill appropriates $75 billion for hospitals and our frontline health care workers so that their needs, including the procurement of Personal Protective Equipment, can be met.

Sires acknowledged that the bill was necessary to support the small business programs that were created and funded in the CARES Act to ensure that the intended support goes to  “mom and pop shops, not big businesses with other means of raising capital.” 

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The veteran congressman went on to say the federal lawmakers must put forth a comprehensive plan to help everyone suffering due to the pandemic. “We can’t approach this problem piecemeal, we need a unified effort that addresses the economic, societal, and health impacts of COVID-19.” 

Just hours before his vote Sires also issued a statement chastising Senate Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) for his suggestion that states should consider going bankrupt instead of seeking aid from the federal government.

Calling the idea inappropriate and an insult to the people who are working hard every day to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak, Sires said that  “it is unfathomable that as millions of Americans are losing their jobs and turning to their states for unemployment assistance, Mitch McConnell would look at ways to pass off his responsibility to the American people rather than help them.”

McConnell is abandoning teachers, fire fighters, police officers, and more for political gain, Sires accused, pointing to the Kentucky lawmaker’s reference to direct state and local aid as a “blue state bailout. The term, Sires said, “ shows that he does not understand that this virus does not respect state lines and the economic impact of this pandemic will be felt by people in Kentucky as well as New Jersey.”

“It seems that McConnell has forgotten that many of those “blue states” he thinks should turn to bankruptcy are the ones sending more money to the federal government than they get back.”

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy offered a similar rebuke of the bankruptcy option on Thursday.

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