Good evening and welcome to our Week-End Update.
Before I begin this week’s update, I want to ask everyone to offer their prayers and support for Pennsylvania U.S. Congressman Mike Kelly, who has been diagnosed with coronavirus. Mike is a good friend and a great member and leader who I regularly count on for advice. Mike is a true champion for his constituents and we are all praying for his speedy recovery.
On Friday, Congress passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. While the bill is not perfect, it is essential that we address this voluntary slowdown of our economy for the purpose of saving lives. It continues to be imperative that we all stay confined and maintain social distancing as we all play a role in mitigating and ending the transmission of this very contagious virus. While these efforts are critical, these actions have led to the shutdown or suspension of many aspects of our economy.
The CARES Act ensures that hardworking Americans and families receive income and increased unemployment benefits during this crisis. It is important for people to know that the entirety of this bill is temporary and focused on defeating this virus as well as keeping our economy afloat during this time of the crisis. For employers, the CARES Act extends emergency loans to small businesses that are forgivable for retaining their employees. It provides much-needed liquidity to our economy and establishes a stabilization fund for struggling businesses. Most importantly, this bill includes support for our hospitals, physicians and first responders by ensuring they have the tools they need to keep us safe. A much more detailed breakdown of the CARES Act can be found on my official website.
It is important for all to know that the White House and the Republican Leadership kept me and other members very involved in the development of this bill. We had many meetings with Secretary Steve Mnuchin, Leader Kevin McCarthy, and the Vice President's office related to what was needed in this bill. As you are probably aware, this bill was held up for at least four to five days due to Speaker Pelosi and Democratic leadership's desire to include a host of liberal policies unrelated to the coronavirus, including wind turbine credits, emission standard credits for airlines, new federal voting jurisdiction and monies for the arts and humanities fund. Thankfully, more than 90% of this spending on liberal policies was removed in the final bill.
After the vote, I conducted an interview on WFMZ regarding the CARES ACT. Click here or below to watch.
My focus as your representative has been on communicating information related to federal legislation and response as well as the facts regarding the crisis to the people of Pennsylvania. To accomplish this, I have been conducting many radio and television interviews, using Facebook and social media, communicating with the chambers of commerce throughout the 9th Congressional District and speaking constantly with the many businesses and banks that are trying to manage their way through this very difficult time. I've also been in regular contact with the hospitals and VA's around Pennsylvania, particularly those in the 9th Congressional District. We have spoken about ensuring their employees have the proper PPEs required as well as other items that they need along with updating them with the progress on the CARES Act. Our hospitals in our District are prepared and ready to manage the situation as it currently stands. I have also been in regular contact with FEMA.
My team and I are directly contacting PPE and hospital equipment suppliers and connecting them with FEMA, including a local ventilator company, test manufacturers, as well as a local, highly innovative mobile hospital structure company. We are doing all we possibly can do to help provide the equipment that is needed and also helping our local businesses be part of the solution.
As all of us who watch the news have witnessed, the President is completely focused on this crisis... ensuring our hospitals are getting supplies, including the staff and space that they need. This crisis is certainly unprecedented, and the fact is that even with a President like Donald Trump government moves slowly due to regulations and FDA restrictions...this is why our constitution places limits on government As we know, big government fails “bigly." Fortunately, this President has the know-how to engage the private sector in a heavy way and is in constant contact with governors around the country to get their assessment of their states' needs.
Just this afternoon, the President had the CEO's and top executives from many major supply chain companies in the country in the White House discussing how to ramp up their production. As you may have read, the President did enact the Defense Production Act and is forcing General Motors to increase its production of ventilators. The President and Vice President are working 24/7 on this crisis and they are also doing their best to describe our current situation in a manner that realistically plans for our economic recovery, which will occur, hopefully, sooner rather than later. I can state objectively that we are in a much better position than we would have been under different leadership.
I watch the news quite a bit, but I have to tell you I struggled to watch the Sunday shows today - This Week with George Propagandaopoulos and Meet the Depressed with Chuck Todd from the Train. Their misrepresentation of the truth is very obvious and very politically motivated. It's a shame that even in this crisis, we can't get real news and information.
As mentioned, Governor Tom Wolf's shutdown of many businesses, including those defined as not life-sustaining, has in itself kept me and our office very busy. It must be said that the Governor's office is accessible, responsive (even though we don't always get the answer we are hoping for) and has been helpful in a number of cases related to small businesses and other issues, including people gaining more access to our state foodbanks. I want to offer my thanks to them for that.
We are also in discussions with the Wolf Administration on giving more weight to perfecting work safety standards than interpreting one life-sustaining business from another. I am concerned about many companies, but I believe we are the only state not permitting outdoor construction. The industry is making its case with our support and the Wolf Administration is closely listening. My hope is that this can be corrected this week because the industry is guaranteeing a high standard of workplace social distancing and safety and is critical to our future.
I do want to very earnestly and sincerely pay tribute to the many first responders, caregivers, nurses, doctors and law enforcement officers for their crucial work. As well, the many non-profits, food banks and meals on wheels volunteers who are volunteering their time and themselves to helping and they are our local heroes. Additionally, I want to acknowledge the many businesses that remain productive during this economic slowdown as they work to ensure they survive. These businesses are maintaining best practices to ensure a safe work environment for their employees and will be prepared for the inevitable economic recovery.
This week, we held tele-town halls with business leaders, bankers and the general public to discuss the economic realities we are facing as a result of the coronavirus and ongoing response. I want to thank Rob Goza, Lead Economic Development Specialist for the U.S. Small Business Administration, for joining us on the business leader call. We will be holding similar tele-town halls this week. Additionally, we participated in a Carbon Community Foundation COVID-19 call, where I delivered an update on the federal response to the coronavirus. We conducted briefings with Pennsylvania’s community banks and our local food banks.
We have witnessed businesses stepping up across the District to help the community. Recently, State Rep. Doyle Heffley and I joined Sharps Compliance Medical Waste Management in Nesquehoning, who donated masks and gloves to local hospitals. Shawn Pulver of Harvey's Lake, owner of C &S Truck & Auto Shoppe, donated 1,000 N95 masks. I also want to thank the Rich Family Companies and Olympus Power for donating 370 masks, 181 protective suits and 3,310 pairs of gloves to St. Luke’s Hospital-Miners Campus. State Senator David Argall and I helped to secure the donation from our local energy companies. Click here to read more. I encourage any businesses which have N95 masks or other supplies to consider donating locally.
I spoke with RJ Harris on WHP 580 for our monthly interview, Joe Reilly on WHLM’s Morning Buzz, WILK's Jason and Frank Andrews, WKOK’s On the Mark news radio and DC Taylor on the River Radio on 103.5. I appeared on Kevin Cirilli on Bloomberg Radio, and you can listen to our interview by clicking here.
President Donald Trump and the White House Task Force on the coronavirus has been marshaling all available resources to combat the virus. We have witnessed both parties come together to help our country in a time of need. Despite those efforts, it is clear that there are some liberal Democrats and members of the media who have prioritized their hatred of President Trump over doing what's best for the nation. Want evidence? Look at Secretary Hillary Clinton’s recent tweet below, which epitomizes this shameless behavior.
Another example of the proof the lamestream media has been pathetic as well. Watch this recent interview with White House Trade Advisor Peter Navarro and CNN anchor Brianna Keilar where they discussed the Trump administration's response to the coronavirus pandemic. I have gotten to know Peter Navarro and he is very tough and smart. In a battle of wits, CNN is unarmed.
On a positive note regarding the media, I want to applaud all our news radio journalists who have provided us with a forum to deliver real news and facts directly to the public. They play such an important role. Additionally, one leading local news outlet in our District stated to me very clearly that their job is to, and I quote, "to avoid creating any unnecessary fear." That is certainly well appreciated in our local Pennsylvania news stations.
Lastly, I want to leave you with a video from the Trump-Pence Campaign, entitled Hope, that encapsulates the work President Trump and his administration have accomplished to combat the coronavirus.
Just as the video says, “We will prevail.”
My team and I, both in the District and in Washington, are working hard every day to ensure everyone gets through this crisis as best as possible. We will continue the work as previously outlined and ensure the implementation of the recent bill gets enacted to deliver relief for Pennsylvanians as soon as possible.
This will be a difficult week folks. We must be more diligent than ever, each of doing our part to stay aware, stay healthy, take care of our familes and look out for those who need extra support. We must also manage through this very difficult business climate. Hang in there, prepare to access the Federal and state support and be as productive as possible. Hopefully, our weather gives us some Spring warmth, which will help curb the virus. I think we will all be happy to engage in some Spring cleaning and gardening soon.
Continued prayers, my team and I are here for you and your family and we will see you soon.