Washington, D.C. – Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06) released the following statement today after the House of Representatives passed H.R. 266, the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act:
“Today, Congress came together to pass an interim emergency funding package that delivers assistance to the American people in this time of crisis. The Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act helps small businesses pay their employees, provides critical support to health care providers and hospitals and establishes a framework to scale up COVID-19 testing nationwide.
“Democrats successfully negotiated $25 billion for testing and a commitment from the Administration to establish a national testing strategy. Testing is the one of the most important tools we have in our fight against the coronavirus. This funding will be used to help states, localities, territories and tribes purchase and perform COVID-19 tests, conduct contact tracing, scale up laboratory capacity and support our public health workforce.
“It also requires the Trump Administration to develop a national testing strategy, something it has refused to do and, instead, has tried to push onto the states. Earlier this week, I urged the Administration to put a comprehensive testing strategy in place, and this legislation will require them to begin this work, so we can start to turn the tide in the fight against this terrible pandemic.
“The legislation also infuses $75 billion into the Provider Relief Fund. These funds will reimburse hospitals and health care providers for their expenses and revenue losses related to COVID-19, support the purchase of desperately needed Personal Protective Equipment and help keep hospitals open, so they are able to continue to care for patients. Unfortunately, we were not able to reach an agreement on allocation guidelines in this bill, but I will continue to fight to ensure distribution is fair and responsive to the areas that are treating the highest number of COVID-19 patients.
“I am pleased this bill provides critical support to small businesses that desperately need help to weather the ongoing economic storm. This legislation strengthens the Paycheck Protection Program with $310 billion in additional funding and expands small business support with $60 billion for SBA disaster lending and grants.
“While our work is far from completed, this bipartisan legislation continues to prioritize the health and economic wellbeing of the American people.”