Our state and nation continue grappling with the effects of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Coronavirus represents uncharted territory for our nation and to others across the globe. The federal government's capacity to respond is of utmost importance. I wanted to take a moment to update you on my recent work in Congress to help combat the spread of COVID-19 and work towards the development of treatments and vaccines for this virus. First and foremost, I advise all Alaskans to follow recommendations from the CDC, such as consistently and properly washing your hands, avoiding unnecessary travel, and practicing social distancing. Click here to learn best practices directly from the CDC.
Recent Legislative Efforts
Earlier this month, I helped pass an emergency funding bill providing $8.3 billion dollars to accelerate the development of a Coronavirus vaccine, increase access to treatment and testing, and expand the availability of critical telemedicine services. There is nothing more important to me than the health and safety of Americans, and I was pleased to see Republicans and Democrats put politics aside and pass this legislation. With businesses shutting down across the country and much of our workforce staying at home in the interest of public health, additional federal support will be needed. As of this writing, Congress continues working to finalize additional legislation to support those who have lost their jobs and income and businesses that have been forced to shut down, in addition to reducing barriers to COVID-19 testing and strengthening support for the development of COVID-19 vaccines and treatments. Rest assured, I will keep Alaskans updated on this and any future legislative efforts concerning COVID-19.
Ensuring the Medical Supply Chain is Functional
I’m co-leading an effort in the House to ensure that our nation’s COVID-19 response is smart, efficient, and effective. Time is of the essence. Medical supply shortages and bureaucratic red tape threaten not only Americans’ access to necessary medical equipment, but may also be making the development of COVID-19 vaccines more difficult. Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE) and I led over 40 of our House colleagues on a letter to Vice President Pence urging the establishment of two task forces to combat COVID-19. We must ensure that the COVID-19 response is streamlined and collaborative, and the goals of these two task forces should be clear: one will focus on the development of treatment, and another will ensure that the medical supply chain is fully functional so that doctors have the equipment they need. To read our full letter to Vice President Pence, click here.
REAL ID Deadline Officially Postponed
Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, President Trump has postponed the October 1st deadline for REAL ID compliance. Alaskans continue to feel the impacts of COVID-19, and forcing them to acquire a REAL ID-compliant license with so many other priorities would amount to an undue burden on our nation's families. Alaskans should be focusing on their health and implementing CDC guidance, such as practicing social distancing; they didn't need one more thing on their plates. I'm grateful to President Trump and the Administration for taking action on this crucial issue. Although a new deadline has not yet been announced, I'll keep working to ensure that Alaskans stay updated on future news regarding REAL ID.
Support is Available for Alaska's Small Businesses
The COVID-19 pandemic is impacting the lives of everyday Americans, including Alaska’s small business owners. Our state’s entrepreneurs should know that the Small Business Administration (SBA) is currently offering low-interest disaster loans to small businesses suffering economic injury as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. These loans offer up to $2 million per small business and may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable, and other bills that can’t be paid because of the disaster’s impact. If you or a business owner you know are interested in learning more, click here.
Tax Return Filing Deadline Extended
Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin has announced that the April 15, 2020 deadline for individual tax returns has been extended until July 15, 2020. This is an important policy change that will provide needed relief for Americans who continue to be affected by uncertainty as our nation combats COVID-19. The IRS has put together a resource page for all questions about filing taxes in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, click here for more information.
Supporting Afterschool Programs Affected by COVID-19
I’m leading a push with Congressman David Cicilline (D-RI-01) to secure an immediate increase of $500 million for 21st Century Community Learning Centers, which provide necessary relief to families affected by the growing COVID-19 pandemic. Countless families rely on afterschool programs to take care of Alaska’s young people, particularly through the nutritious snacks and meals they provide. The COVID-19 outbreak is having devastating impacts on afterschool programs across the country, and it is critical that they receive the funding necessary to support children during this difficult time for our nation. I encourage you to read our full bipartisan letter to House Leadership by clicking here.
COVID-19 has caused much uncertainty in our communities, and I want Alaskans to know that my staff and I are standing by to assist Alaskans with any questions or issues that may arise. I have launched a Coronavirus Resource Center on my website that compiles resources, best practices, and situational updates straight from the CDC. Knowledge is one of our best defenses against the spread of Coronavirus. I encourage you to share this important resource with family and friends in Alaska and across our country.
As always, never hesitate to contact me with any questions you may have. Stay safe, stay vigilant, and we'll get through this together.
Congressman for All Alaska