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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) released the following statement today after the U.S. Senate passed an additional relief package to combat the outbreak of novel coronavirus. Senator Fischer has worked with her colleagues in a bipartisan manner to pass this relief for Nebraska families, businesses, and communities affected by COVID-19.

“We are in a crisis. We must provide people with relief and get our economy on the road to recovery, and that is exactly what the bipartisan legislation we passed today does. It includes relief for individuals, families, businesses, and communities. For small businesses, it ensures that they can keep their employees working and don’t have to shut their doors for good. For health care providers and first responders, it includes substantial hospital funding as well as my bipartisan bill with Rep. Bacon to help produce a sufficient supply of respirator masks. For communities, it creates a new coronavirus relief fund with $150 billion for state and local governments to help them address this pandemic.  And for agriculture, which provides one in four Nebraska jobs, it increases emergency response funding for producers impacted by COVID-19. We need to battle this virus, provide relief to our people through this stressful time, and get our economy stabilized,” said Senator Fischer.

More information on the relief package:

Individuals:

 - Provides recovery checks of $1,200 for all individuals with adjusted gross income up to $75,000 or $112,500 in the case of those with a head of household filing status. Check amounts begin phasing out for incomes greater than $75,000 and completely phase out for individuals earning more than $99,000.

  • $2,400 for married couples with adjusted gross income up to $150,000
  • An increase of $500 for every child

- Waives the 10 percent early withdrawal penalty for individuals withdrawing from qualified retirement accounts for virus-related challenges

- Extends the amount of time a person can receive unemployment insurance and increases the amount of unemployment insurance available per person for up to 4 months

Small- and Medium-Sized Businesses:

- Paycheck Protection Program: Makes funds available for Small Business Administration (SBA) to give forgivable loans to businesses, certain nonprofits, and veterans’ organizations with 500 or fewer employees who keep their employees on payroll

  • Loans of up to $10 million are eligible for full forgiveness if used to pay debt obligations and keep employees on payroll
  • Businesses can use these funds to cover costs related to payroll, interest payments on a mortgage, rent, utilities, health care benefits, and interest on any other debt obligations

- Allows borrowers that have received or will receive an Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) between January 31, 2020 and December 31, 2020 to be eligible for certain assistance under this program. 

States:

- Provides $150 billion for states to use for COVID-19 expenses, allocated by population proportions, with a minimum of $1.25 billion for states with relatively small populations

Agriculture:

- Provides $9.5 billion in emergency COVID-19 response funding for livestock producers, including cow/calf producers and feeders who are facing depressed prices and a volatile futures market

- Safeguards supply chain to fulfill increased consumer demand during the crisis

  • This package provides funding for critical elements of oversight in that chain—including Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) money for continued slaughter and packaging inspections and Agricultural Marketing Services (AMS) money for continued commodity grading and inspection

PREP Act:

- Includes Senator Fischer’s legislation with Senator Sinema (D-Ariz.) to amend the PREP Act and ensure a sufficient supply of NIOSH-certified respirators

  • Current law, via the PREP Act, allows the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to issue a declaration granting limited liability protection to manufacturers and distributors of certain countermeasures against diseases—which includes respirators—when the government calls up that equipment to be used in the event of an outbreak or epidemic.
  • However, respirators which are overseen by NIOSH—an office within the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)—are not currently eligible for that protection.
  • This provision ensures that these respirators are eligible for the same federal liability protections as other medical products, vaccines, and drugs

Healthcare:

- Expands an existing Medicare accelerated payment program to ensure Critical Access Hospitals have a reliable and stable cash flow during COVID-19 response

- Increases reimbursement for all Medicare providers, including an add-on 20% payment for hospitals for COVID-19 care specifically

- $100 billion to ensure healthcare providers continue to receive the support they need for COVID-19 related expenses and lost revenue.

- $275 million to expand services and capacity for rural hospitals, telehealth, poison control centers, and the Ryan White HIV/AIDS program

- $1.32 billion for Community Health Centers and extend those set to expire on May 22, until Nov 30, 2020.

- Makes over $330 million available to promote the use of telehealth technologies and the internet connectivity needed to boost telehealth networks.

  • Now more than ever, telehealth capabilities are critical for increasing access to screening and monitoring for patients, while minimizing COVID-19 exposure to others. 

Students and Educational Institutions:

- Defers student loan payments, principal, and interest for 6 months without penalty to the student