The news continues to be grim, as the death toll from COVID-19 rises, the economy enters recession, and the pandemic takes a heavy toll on our region. Today the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported a nationwide loss of over 20 million jobs in the month of April, a figure orders of magnitude worse than the worst month of the Great Recession. The United States now has its highest unemployment rate since the Great Depression.
Economists and health experts agree that managing the pandemic is an essential first step before current public health restrictions can be relaxed and businesses reopened. It remains vital for each of us to do our part to prevent the spread of this deadly disease by washing our hands, disinfecting surfaces, remaining at least six feet apart from others when we go out, following guidance from the CDC, and above all, staying home.
Rep. Don Beyer’s COVID-19 Pandemic
Resources & Updates For Northern Virginia
I am working around the clock with my capable staff to help improve and strengthen the national response. Just in the past few weeks I introduced legislation to encourage COVID-19 test innovation, led colleagues working to identify and fix problems with medical supply chains, organized a push to boost funding for health care research, and spearheaded an initiative to improve national testing and tracing efforts, another necessary precursor to any economic revival. I also remain determined to ensure that federal workers are kept safe, including seeking continued telework during WMATA station closures scheduled to take place this summer.
Congress recently passed legislation – the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act – to expand CARES Act funding to support small businesses and save workers’ jobs. The legislation also funded hospitals and national coronavirus testing initiatives. I supported the bill, which will help millions, but as I said on the House Floor during debate, the American people need more assistance from Congress.
On that note, the House is currently negotiating its next pandemic relief legislation. I have been heavily involved in those discussions, and my top priorities include:
I will share new updates on this legislation as the House develops it.
- Supporting state and local governments which have lost large portions of revenue and had to cover increased costs incurred by fighting the pandemic. Allowing states and localities to go bankrupt would mean cuts to healthcare and layoffs of teachers, police, and firefighters, which I strongly oppose
- My legislation to tie expanded unemployment benefits to the public health emergency and economic crisis using automatic triggers, the Worker Relief and Security Act; which is particularly important amid historic unemployment
- Two pieces of legislation I helped advance to support small businesses: one would extend the life of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and increase its funding to save jobs, the other would reform PPP to make it work better and more fairly for small businesses, targeting the funding to those who need it most.
- Additional, improved direct payments to Americans weather this crisis
- Rental assistance to prevent people from being evicted during the pandemic
- Funding to protect and support frontline workers across the country who are putting themselves at risk to keep us safe
- Funding for SNAP and other nutritional supports to ensure that Americans do not go hungry, and rules changes to make sure the support reaches all who need it
- Working with my Northern Virginia colleague Rep. Gerry Connolly to fund and preserve the United States Postal Service
In the meantime, I am having regular conversations with Northern Virginia community leaders, and have held discussions with medical workers, school superintendents, and fire and police chiefs to inform my work in Congress. I am in frequent contact with House leaders on your behalf, and my committees (the Joint Economic Committee, Ways and Means, and Science, Space and Technology) continue to work remotely in their legislative efforts and inquiries. My constituent services team is busier than ever supporting the community, and I hope you will contact us if you need help, for instance with a federal agency or in seeking a letter of introduction for a small business loan.
You can follow what I’m doing by signing up for my newsletter, or following me on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. I hope you will not hesitate to contact me via email, phone at 202-225-4376, or at 703-658-5403 for constituent services.
Please know that I am working constantly to keep Northern Virginians safe and well.