Senator Collins’ Statement on COVID-19 Relief Package

Washington, D.C.—U.S. Senator Susan Collins released this statement today following the Senate’s vote on the COVID-19 relief package.  The legislation received the support of a majority of Senators by a vote of 52-47, but it failed to reach 60 votes required to advance. 

 

“This legislation is a starting point for negotiations on a bipartisan relief package that can be signed into law.

 

“The bill includes a much-needed extension of the Paycheck Protection Program I authored with Senator Marco Rubio authorizing $257 billion in forgivable loans for small businesses.  The provisions would allow the hardest-hit small businesses to receive a second forgivable loan and reopen the application process for small business owners who have yet to apply.  Thus far in Maine, the PPP has provided $2.3 billion in forgivable loans to more than 28,000 small businesses, helping to sustain more than 255,000 jobs.

 

“The bill includes a number of other provisions that I advocated for, such as a significant boost in funding for testing, financial relief for farmers and fishermen, and support for child care and our public schools.

 

“On the other hand, the bill has some notable omissions. For example, the package should provide direct assistance to municipalities, such as the SMART Act I co-sponsored, that would help towns and cities avoid deep cuts to essential services and layoffs of paramedics, firefighters, police, sanitation workers, public health and public works employees, and other front-line workers.  Along with Senator Cassidy, I filed the bipartisan SMART Act as an amendment to the package, and believe this is a good example of how the Senate and House should negotiate to consider bills where there is bipartisan agreement.  

 

“Moreover, the bill does not provide workable assistance for public schools.  I recently spoke with superintendents throughout the State and visited schools in Hollis and Houlton, and I have seen first-hand the expensive modifications they have made to help keep students and staff healthy.  Funding should not be conditioned on whether a school is fully open.  The strings preventing more education funding from going to schools with hybrid or virtual instruction should be cut, which is why I, along with the Chairman of the Senate Education Committee, filed an amendment to strike that misguided requirement from the package.  And, I oppose providing expensive tax credits that open the door to private school vouchers.   

 

“I am also working with Senator Jack Reed and our growing list of bipartisan co-sponsors to provide assistance to the motorcoach industry, which has not received any federal assistance yet has been devastated by the pandemic.

 

“The first step to improve and strengthen this relief package is to begin debating it.  I call on my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to set aside partisan politics and to come together, as we have over the last several months, to provide much-needed relief to support the health of Americans and the health of our economy in the face of the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.”

 

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