Comment Of Senate Appropriations Committee Vice Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) On Senate Passage Of The Coronavirus Aid Package 3.5

I am glad Congress was able to reach bipartisan agreement on an interim bill to help small businesses that have been devastated by this crisis, and to provide aid to hospitals and improve testing capability for COVID-19.

Now is not the time to let up.

We cannot be led to believe that our work here is done.  There are important changes that still need to be made to ensure the SBA programs work for our restaurants, small inns and hotels, and others that are waiting to reopen.  Still others are waiting to find out whether they can participate in the programs. Hospitals and healthcare workers will need more resources in the weeks and months ahead.  State and local governments, struggling to help communities address the coronavirus pandemic, still desperately need more funding.  And lines for foodbanks and other critical services continue to grow.  I look forward to working on a fourth, comprehensive, coronavirus relief bill in the coming weeks to address these needs. 

This bill includes improvements to SBA programs that will help small businesses in rural communities like Vermont access the necessary resources to keep their businesses afloat and people on the payroll during these uncertain times.  It targets aid to small businesses in often hard-to-reach communities. Importantly, it also allows agricultural operations and small farms in Vermont to apply for this needed assistance.  These improvements would not have been possible if we had simply added more money to the SBA Payment Protection Program, as the President proposed.  Yet again, Democrats fought the hard fight for the American people and won.  This bill also provides an infusion of cash to bolster testing in this country.  As we all know, testing is key to getting our country and economy back in business.  We must, and we will, win this battle.   

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CONTACT: Jay Tilton – 202-224-2667