U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA), a member of the Senate Small Business Committee, supported and delivered critical additional relief for Iowans across the state in the bipartisan Phase 3 package that passed the Senate today. Phase 3 builds on the Senate-passed, and now law, Phase 1 bipartisan package that provided resources to federal, state and local authorities and the Phase 2 bipartisan package to provide paid sick leave, free COVID-19 diagnostic testing, and increased support for nutrition for seniors and children.
“As this COVID-19 pandemic has evolved, I’ve continued to listen to Iowans from all sectors of our economy, and there has been one resounding message: we need relief, and we need it now. After heeding these calls, I pushed my colleagues to take swift, bold action to deliver immediate aid to folks in Iowa, and across the country. And thankfully, we’ve done that,” said Senator Ernst. “From Phase 1, where we bolstered our state and local response efforts; to Phase 2 where we provided paid sick leave and free testing; and now, to Phase 3 where we’ve come to the aid of America’s workforce and those in our health care industry on the front lines of this pandemic.
“Iowans from every corner of our state – moms and dads, nurses and doctors, small business employers and employees, cashiers and clerks, seniors and students, veterans and farmers – will get support from this Phase 3 deal. The Senate has stepped up in this time of crisis and delivered critical additional relief for Iowans and all Americans.
“Now, the House must do their job, pass this bipartisan bill quickly, and get it to President Trump’s desk. We don’t have time for delay; Iowans need this aid right now.”
Senator Ernst has been hosting calls with Iowans from across the state, listening to their needs and concerns, and bringing their voices to her Senate colleagues to secure more assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic. Highlighted below are a number of the emergency relief measures Ernst successfully included in the bipartisan Phase 3 package.
Iowa’s Workers, Families, Seniors, and Small Businesses:
- Provides direct assistance to Americans: $1,200 for individuals, $2,400 for married couples, and $500 per child.
- Protects workers and small businesses by allowing local banks and credit unions to provide federally-backed loans for small businesses to keep their employees on payroll and to pay bills; loans can be forgiven if they maintain payroll.
- Expands loan access to child care providers, non-profits, and businesses with less than 500 employees.
- Bolsters unemployment benefits for workers and provides assistance to self-employed and contractors through a new Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program.
- Grants access to loans for distressed sectors, including retail, restaurants, and hotels.
- Increases funding opportunities for child care providers by bolstering the Child Care and Development Block Grant program.
- Secures support for children and families in poverty or lower income communities by increasing funding for states through the Healthy Start Program.
- Expands access to home-delivered meals for seniors who are homebound due to social distancing or illness.
Iowa’s Health Care Workers, Hospitals, and Rural/Community Health Centers:
- Provides direct financial assistance to health care workers and hospitals on the front lines of COVID-19.
- Delivers robust funding to increase the supply of personal protective equipment in the Strategic National Stockpile and other medical supplies for federal and state response efforts.
- Bolsters funding for development of a COVID-19 vaccine and provides free coverage of a future vaccine for the American public.
- Expands telehealth services through Rural Health Clinics and Federally Qualified Health Centers.
- Increases funding for Community Health Centers on the front lines of testing and treating patients for COVID-19.
- Improves access to home health services by allowing physician assistants and nurse practitioners to certify a beneficiary’s eligibility.
- Increases Medicare rates for treating COVID-19 patients.
- Decreases US dependency on foreign entities for our medical product supply chain by demanding the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) examine the security of the supply chain and collaborate with other federal agencies.
Iowa’s Students, Teachers, Veterans, and Farmers:
- Provides more assistance for schools, teachers, and students, including K-12 and higher education institutions.
- Waives student loan payments, principal, and interest for 6 months. Allows employers and employees to exclude student debt payments made by employer from taxes.
- Improves access to care for veterans by increasing additional funding for medical services and equipment, telehealth, community care, and more.
- Assists food banks and pantries by providing funding for additional commodity purchases.
- Bolsters direct assistance to farmers and producers through the Commodity Credit Corporation and emergency support.
- Protects the security of our food supply by additional funding for food inspections.
- Eliminates the excise tax for alcohol used to produce hand sanitizer.
Background on Ernst’s efforts to combat COVID-19:
Senator Ernst has fought to deliver relief to all Iowans during the COVID-19 pandemic. Here are some of her efforts during this challenging time:
- Passed a “Phase 1” bipartisan package to provide additional resources to federal, state and local authorities.
- Passed a “Phase 2” bill to provide paid sick leave, free COVID-19 diagnostic testing, and increased support for nutrition for seniors and children.
- Called for an ‘all hands on deck’ approach to tackling the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Urged the Senate to prioritize relief for hospitals, community health centers, and workers on the front lines.
- Announced a proposal to immediately redirect the over $350M in the Presidential Campaign Election Fund to be used to purchase specialized face masks and personal protective equipment.
- Asked the State Department to immediately act to get Iowans stranded abroad back home.
- Held a telephone town hall with thousands of Iowans to help answer some questions and hear directly from folks.
- Participated in discussions at the State Emergency Operations Center with Governor Kim Reynolds last weekend.
- Discussed the need to work together – at federal, state, and local level – to tackle COVID-19.
- Published a column on everyone doing their part to protect seniors and fellow Iowans from COVID-19.