Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee Calls for National Control Over Industries Necessary to Handle Coronavirus Pandemic
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 16, 2020
Contact: Remmington Belford
Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee Calls for National Control Over
Industries Necessary to Handle Coronavirus Pandemic
“We are in a human crisis and the Senate must act immediately to save lives. Any changes or tweaks in the legislation can be addressed in the future and any delay can costs lives” – Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee
Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, a senior Member of the Homeland Security Committee and a senior Member of the Budget Committee is urging the Senate to act immediately on the emergency relief package and urging the Administration to take under federal operations the manufacturing of protective gear, ventilators, the establishment of increased hospital capacity, and the production and distribution of tests.
After the passage of the emergency funding bill and the emergency relief package, Congresswoman Jackson Lee stated, “it is imperative that the federal government has oversight of the production of vital health related protective gear, medical devices and coronavirus testing. We must ensure the American public that there is no shortage of any required devices, gear, or testing kits needed to eradicate this virus.”
On Monday, February 24, 2020, I formally requested the President of the United States by letter to immediately suspend any health-related cuts that impact efforts to contain and treat the coronavirus. I am pleased that the President supported a $8.3 billion emergency funding bill that passed on Wednesday, March 4, 2020 in the U.S. House of Representatives, with a 415-2 bipartisan vote, to combat the coronavirus amid concerns about a widespread outbreak within the United States. It includes:
$500 million in waivers for Medicare telehealth restrictions
$300 million for purchasing vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics
$2.2 billion to help federal, state and local public health agencies prepare for and respond to the coronavirus, including funds for lab testing, infection control, and tracing individuals who might have had contact with infected people.
Reimburses state and local governments for costs they have already incurred.
I am also pleased that on Friday, March 13, 2020, the President declared a national emergency to free up $50 billion in federal resources to combat coronavirus, waiving interest on student loans and purchasing more crude oil for the US strategic reserve. And on early Saturday morning, March 14, 2020, the U.S. House of Representatives passed an emergency relief package to address the sweeping effects of the coronavirus and cushion the economic blow to the most vulnerable Americans. The legislation includes:
Two weeks of paid sick leave for workers
Up to three months of paid family and medical leave, equal to no less than two-thirds of their pay. These benefits apply to employees of businesses with fewer than 500 employees, or the government, who are infected by the virus, quarantined, have a sick family member or are affected by school closings.
Free coronavirus testing for all, including the uninsured. It also includes a 6.2 percentage point increase in federal payments to Medicaid states, $64 million for Indian Health Services, $60 million for the Department of Veterans Affairs, and $1 billion to reimburse the costs of testing and services to people without health insurance.
Increases funding for food assistance programs. $1 billion for food security programs aimed at helping those who may struggle to get access to meals during the pandemic, including those who rely on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, food banks, and the 22 million children who receive free or reduced-price lunch at school.
$500 million to help provide nutritious food to low-income pregnant women or mothers with young children who lose their jobs as a result of the coronavirus outbreak
$400 million to help local food banks purchase, store and distribute food.
$100 million to provide nutrition assistance grants to Puerto Rico, American Samoa, and the Northern Mariana Islands
$250 million to provide additional home-delivered and prepackaged meals to low-income seniors who rely on federal programs.
Emergency food assistance to households with children who would receive free or reduced-price meals in school if they close for five days or longer.
It also includes language that bars the administration from pushing ahead with tougher work requirements for food stamps beginning on April 1. Under the package, the work and work training requirements for SNAP would be suspended during the coronavirus pandemic.
Strengthens unemployment insurance benefits by providing $1 billion in 2020 for emergency grants to states to assist with processing and paying unemployment insurance. Half of those funds would be used to provide immediate additional funding to all states for staffing, technology and other administrative costs. The other half would be used for emergency grants to states that experienced at least a 10-percent increase in unemployment.
“This legislation gives the federal government the needed resources to keep our citizens from suffering economically and to help boost our economy. We are in a human crisis and the Senate must act immediately to save lives. Any changes or tweaks in the legislation can be addressed in the future and any delay can costs lives,” stated Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee
Going forward, it is important that we focus and invest in the following six items:
1. Increase and Improve Testing Capabilities
2. Improve our Public Health Infrastructure
3. Provide Unambiguous Information to Local Authorities
4 Provide Appropriate Equipment and Training for CBP and TSA Officers
5 Identify Quarantine Facilities
6 Provide Public Health Staff at Airports
“This is not a time for hysteria or propaganda, but rather a time for facts and action. We must continue utilize all information and federal resources available to ensure that efforts to stem the spread of this virus is successful. My office will continue to monitor all the efforts to contain and cure this virus by working with local, state, and federal officials.”
Congresswoman Jackson Lee is a Democrat from Texas’s 18th Congressional District. She is a senior member of the House Committees on Judiciary and Homeland Security and a member of the Budget Committee.