April 29, 2020

AUDIO: Udall Hosts Press Call on COVID-19 Response, Recent Congressional Action to Fund Small Business and Hospital Relief, COVID-19 Testing

Udall discussed need for additional relief for New Mexico and local governments, urgent need to expand testing to re-open economy safely, and continued work for Tribal communities

AUDIO: Udall Hosts Press Call on COVID-19 Response, Recent Congressional Package Replenishing Small Business Loans

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senator Tom Udall (D-N.M.) hosted a press conference call with New Mexico reporters to discuss the latest $484 billion coronavirus relief package that passed Congress last week. Udall discussed his efforts to ensure that the latest Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funds are distributed to small businesses in New Mexico—including minority, women-owned and Tribal businesses. As part of the previous coronavirus relief bill, banks approved 8,277 loans in New Mexico for a total of over $1.4 billion, but many small businesses were unable to access the funding Udall also discussed the need for additional relief for New Mexico state and local governments, the urgent need for more testing to reopen the economy safely and his continued work for relief measures to benefit Tribes and Native communities.  

This round, I pushed for dedicating a significant portion of PPP to underserved businesses – including minority and women-owned businesses – and businesses without an established relationship with a big bank,” Udall said. “We secured an additional $60 billion dollars, out of that $310 billion, that is set aside for these businesses to bank through small and community-based lenders.” 

Udall continued, “I remain very concerned with the outbreaks on the Navajo Nation and on some of New Mexico’s Pueblos. I helped secure $10 billion dollars for Tribes in the CARES Act and $750 million dollars for Tribal testing in the package passed last week. But we’re not done. Getting unprecedented amounts of funding out the door hasn’t been without implementation problems – and we’re pushing federal agencies to get funding where it needs to go fast.” 

“We all want to get back to normal – and the only way we can do that is if we have a national testing strategy. I’m pushing the administration to do better on this,” Udall concluded. “My focus during this crisis has been – and will remain – on supporting working families, small businesses, and vulnerable populations and making sure our hospitals and frontline healthcare workers have the resources they need to do their jobs and keep safe themselves.”

Congress has passed four legislative packages to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic crisis, a total of nearly $3 trillion in relief efforts across the United States.

For a comprehensive list of the actions Udall has taken to improve and expand the federal response to coronavirus, please click HERE.

Listen to the audio HERE.

Udall’s remarks can be found below: 

0:00 Thank you for joining us today.

0:19 So far Congress has passed 4 legislative packages to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic crisis. We are facing an unprecedented, dual public health and economic crisis – so our response must be unprecedented as well.

0:37 While all 4 bills passed on a strong bipartisan basis, there have been intense negotiations in which Democrats succeeded in improving these bills so they include: 

0:53 Increased funding for small businesses to support their payrolls,

0: 56 Better unemployment benefits for Americans who lost their jobs,

1:00 Increased funding for hospitals and frontline health care workers,

1:03 Money for small businesses and the testing necessary to restart the economy safely, and

1:09 Greater support for state and local governments and Tribes facing budget disaster.

1:16 The latest package, passed last week, infused another $484 billion dollars toward relief efforts. 

1:22 A big piece of this last bill is resupplying the Paycheck Protection Program or “PPP” with $310 billion dollars. The PPP provides loans to small businesses of up to $10 million dollars that can be turned into grants if the businesses maintain their payroll. 

1:44 However, we’ve seen the stories of bigger businesses crowding out smaller businesses for PPP funding. We’ve seen large banks catering to “preferred” customers to the exclusion of smaller businesses – the businesses that are truly struggling to stay afloat.

2:04 This round, I pushed for dedicating a significant portion of PPP to underserved businesses – including minority and women-owned businesses – and businesses without an established relationship with a big bank.  

2:20 We secured an additional $60 billion dollars, out of that $310 billion, that is set aside for these businesses to bank through small and community-based lenders.

2:30 In total, 8,277 loans for New Mexico small businesses were approved during the first round of PPP, for a total of over $1.4 billion dollars. That is real relief for struggling businesses.  

2:48 I’ve been on the telephone with the Treasury Secretary, pushing the administration to prioritize small businesses who truly need PPP to survive. I’ve been in contact with the state’s Small Business Administration Office about their backlog and application system crashes. And I’ve been in contact with HHS leadership, pushing them to make sure that healthcare relief funding reaches New Mexico hospitals that rely on Medicaid, including our rural hospitals.

3:20 In addition, I’m staying in close contact with Governor Lujan Grisham and leadership across our state. The governor has let public health science guide her decisions, and has provided steady and effective leadership during this time of crisis. 

3:36 But certain areas are struggling to contain the virus. I remain very concerned with the outbreaks on the Navajo Nation and on some of New Mexico’s Pueblos. I helped secure $10 billion dollars for tribes in the CARES Act and $750 million dollars for Tribal testing in the package passed last week. But we’re not done.

4:01 Getting unprecedented amounts of funding out the door hasn’t been without implementation problems – and we’re pushing federal agencies to get funding where it needs to go fast. 

4:14 But, that being said, in addition to the up to $1.25 billion dollars that New Mexico state government and local municipalities already have in their accounts, New Mexico has seen:

4:25 Over $226 million dollars that has gone to hundreds of New Mexico hospitals and health care facilities. With another $15 million dollars to 16 community health centers.  

4:39 New Mexico state and local government is set to receive over $133 million dollars in emergency transit grants.

4:48 New Mexico will receive over $84 million dollars for colleges, universities, and students and a flexible education relief fund in the Governor’s office.

4:58 And we were just awarded over $6.5 million dollars for testing and contact tracing.

5:06 Indeed – dramatically expanded testing is critical to safely re-opening our economy.

5:14 We all want to get back to normal – and the only way we can do that is if we have a national testing strategy. I’m pushing the administration to do better on this.

5:27 The Senate is heading back to Washington next week. 

5:30 My focus during this crisis has been – and will remain – on supporting working families, small businesses, and vulnerable populations and making sure our hospitals and frontline healthcare workers have the resources they need to do their jobs and keep safe themselves.

5:50 Udall takes questions.