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Congressman talks of relief and stability for Kansas families, workers and small businesses

Rep. Ron Estes District 4, U.S. House
Representatives

Note: Each month I want to provide you with regular updates about what’s going on in our nation’s capital and throughout the 4th District of Kansas. Here’s what has happened in April.

CARES Act

At the end of March the President signed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The legislation provides grants and loans to small businesses to meet payroll and expenses, allows regulatory relief so banks can grant loan forbearance for otherwise healthy businesses, and temporarily expands unemployment insurance to provide a lifeline for those who have lost their jobs.

One aspect of the CARES Act is the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) – a guaranteed loan for small businesses, independent contractors, and more to provide stability and relief through these challenging times. It’s designed to keep employees connected with their employer now so that Kansans have a job to return to when our country reopens. Unfortunately, funding for the program ran out April 16.

On April 23 the House passed a bill that puts more money in the popular Paycheck Protection Program and increases funding for hospitals and testing through the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act.

More than 1.6 million small businesses and their employees were helped before the money ran out, including $4.3 billion in PPP loans for more than 26,000 small businesses in Kansas. The average loan size in Kansas during the initial round of funding was $163,408. The SBA processed an impressive 14 years of loans in 13 days, and nearly 5,000 lenders participated nationwide.

According to the Joint Economic Committee, 201,000 Kansas jobs are supported by the $310 billion in funding we added to the PPP. The SBA started processing PPP loans again on April 27.

The $75 billion for hospitals is critical, and I will continue to make sure Kansas receives the appropriate amount of support, including in our rural areas.

Another vital part of the legislation is additional funding for testing. This will be key as we look to get our economy going again. We want to ensure that we can open up Kansas safely, and the $25 billion in testing support will assist in making informed decisions.

My hope is that workers, small businesses, health care providers, and all Kansans will see the benefits of the CARES Act and the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act.

Scam Alert

Unfortunately, nefarious characters use times of crisis to prey and profit on our fellow neighbors. I want to make sure you are aware of several scams happening right now.

No one from the government will be calling, emailing or texting you for personal information – such as bank information or Social Security number – to receive the Economic Impact Payment.

There are no agencies or organizations that can help you receive the Economic Impact Payment faster by working on the taxpayer’s behalf.

If you receive something in the mail that looks like a check but requires you to verify information online or over the phone to cash it, it’s a bogus check and not from the government.

The Department of Homeland Security is not mobilizing the National Guard to enforce a national quarantine. Letters urging citizens to stock up on supplies and that an announcement is coming soon are false. The National Guard may be seen working in communities to help support COVID-19 responses through warehouse operations, commodity distribution, planning, access control, mailroom support, and staffing the State Emergency Operations Center with inter-agency partners.

These scams are despicable. I encourage you to use Kansas common sense when it comes to reviewing information online, in print, on TV and over the phone. These scammers are preying on fear, but the best way to defeat them is by not falling for their pathetic tactics.

Help for Kansas Agriculture Producers

Every Kansan feels the economic impact of the coronavirus – that’s why the CARES Act has provisions to help our farmers, ranchers and growers.

Historically, the Small Business Administration could not support ag producers – my colleagues and I fought to change this when we created the Paycheck Protection Program. Under the new PPP rules, ag producers are eligible to receive a forgivable loan if they meet the program’s other requirements.

The CARES Act also includes new funding of $14 billion for the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) to replenish their financial relief programs, $15 billion for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, and another $9.5 billion in direct assistance to livestock, specialty crop, and local foods producers.

In April, President Trump and Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced the $19 billion Coronavirus Food Assistance Program. The announcement of the new Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) is welcome news to the hardworking ag producers in our state.

With $16 billion going directly to ag producers who experienced losses and another $3 billion to purchase food for food banks and nonprofits, our federal government is committed to keeping the food supply chain running. This program not only benefits farmers and ranchers, but consumers all across the world.

Additionally, the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act now allows agricultural operations with fewer than 500 employees to qualify for Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL).

Supporting Energy Producers

In April I joined my colleagues to introduce bipartisan legislation providing $3 billion in funding to purchase American-produced crude oil for the United States Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR).

Earlier this year, President Trump and Department of Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette requested funding to fill the SPR. This timely legislation will help American energy producers and their workers who are suffering due to the recent decrease in American oil prices.

COVID-19 Updates and Resources Online

My office has assembled updates and resources related to the coronavirus pandemic. Visit estes.house.gov/coronavirus to access this information.

Connect with Me

Interested in receiving regular updates about what’s going on in Congress? Sign up for our weekly e-newsletter at estes.house.gov and please don’t hesitate to reach out to my District Office in Wichita at 316-262-8992 if you have questions, concerns or need help with a federal agency.

* Ron Estes is a 5th generation Kansan and represents Kansas’ 4th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives. He serves on the House Committee on Ways and Means.