April 21, 2020

Udall Applauds Senate Passage of Additional Emergency Funding for Small Businesses, Hospitals, Nationwide Testing

Senate passes $484 billion interim relief bill to strengthen, improve the CARES Act & address lack of COVID-19 testing

SANTA FE, N.M.—Today, U.S. Senator Tom Udall applauded unanimous Senate passage of a bipartisan interim COVID-19 relief agreement to bolster the public health response and economic recovery provisions of the CARES Act by providing additional emergency funding and fixes for small business relief, hospitals and health care workers, and to increase nationwide testing and contact tracing capabilities: 

“As our communities continue to step up and slow the spread of COVID-19, small business owners and employees, hospitals, families and frontline workers in New Mexico and Indian Country need more relief—now. While I believe that Congress must return to Washington to work on more substantial long-term response and oversight efforts, this interim funding will strengthen the CARES Act and better ensure that available resources make it into the hands of those most in need. 

“This bill includes critical funds for small businesses, health care systems, and – importantly – funds to increase our nationwide testing capacity, which has been a glaring and costly weakness in the Trump administration’s COVID-19 response. We cannot rebuild our economy or return to normal life safely without drastically expanded testing, and I am glad that Congress is providing these resources in the absence of leadership from the Trump administration. 

“Rather than simply increasing funding for the Paycheck Protection Program by $250 billion, I am proud that Democrats were able to secure an additional $220 billion in CARES Act relief resources. We were able to secure $120 billion so that more small business owners, especially those in underserved, underbanked communities in New Mexico and on Indian lands will be better able to access funds. Thanks to our efforts, there is also an additional $75 billion for our hospitals and health care providers that are facing dire financial straits— including cutting staff and equipment shortages during a pandemic – along with $25 billion for the mass testing efforts that will be needed to safely reopen social and economic activities with $11 billion dedicated to go directly to states, localities and Tribes to boost testing and contact tracing capabilities. As vice chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, I also worked to ensure these testing funds include $750 million specifically for Tribes —to ensure their ability to continue the heroic work of saving lives and preparing their communities for a safer future.

“But even with this additional $484 billion, we are far from finished addressing the many other crisis our communities are facing. I am disappointed that Republicans were unwilling to listen to the bipartisan calls from governors, Tribal leaders and local government leaders who are sounding the alarm on their ability to provide basic public services in all of our communities as revenues drastically slip. We must continue to work on a future response package without delay to build on our response to the COVID-19 pandemic that includes additional relief for struggling families, support for cash-strapped state, local and Tribal governments, action to ensure safe elections this year, and benefits that recognize the sacrifices of frontline workers.”