U.S. Senator Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) voted in support of the coronavirus emergency legislation Wednesday. The vote passed the senate with 90 in support, eight in opposition.
Over the last several weeks, America has been faced with the uncertainty of the risks, transmission and effects of the coronavirus, or COVID-19. At the national, state, local and even household level, this pandemic has challenged our sense of normalcy and it has tested every institution of daily life we know. Earlier this month, I voted to support funding that would help bolster states’ responses to the virus, advance research to develop a vaccine, fund community health centers and provide for other emergency response mechanisms. Today, I voted to support broad, bipartisan emergency legislation that will provide relief to American families facing financial hardships.
The legislation passed out of the Senate today contains a number of provisions to provide relief to Americans by:
- Providing states with an increase in federal medical assistance percentages to give states the option of additional coverage for coronavirus testing without cost sharing
- Expanding emergency nutrition assistance, including $500 million for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, $400 million for the Emergency Food Assistance Program, and $250 million for senior nutrition programs
- Ensuring TRICARE recipients, covered veterans and federal employees are covered for diagnostic testing, including the cost of the physician visit
- Creating an emergency paid leave program under the Family and Medical Leave Act, as well as establishing other emergency sick leave measures
- Providing tax credits to employers to cover certain wages paid to employees under the sick and family leave programs
- Providing $1 billion to states to process and pay unemployment benefits
I continue to thank those within the health care system and others on the frontlines of battling the coronavirus for their dedication to treating patients and working to find a life-saving vaccine.
The American people are resilient, and we will see the end of this challenge as we continue to work together. In the meantime, I encourage Idahoans and all Americans to take prudent measures to help stop the spread of this virus by adhering to updated guidance from our public health experts at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the White House. The next two weeks are critical, and that updated guidance includes:
· Avoiding gatherings of 10 or more people;
· Avoiding close contact with people who are sick;
· Refraining from touching your face;
· Staying home as much as possible;
· Avoiding eating or drinking out in public;
· Preventing discretionary travel;
· Practicing recommended hygienic practices of hand-washing and cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces; and
· Refraining from panic buying so everyone can have access to everyday needs.
I remain in Washington, D.C., to continue my work for Idahoans. I am following CDC guidelines on hygiene practices. Effective Friday, March 14, my Washington, D.C., office moved to teleworking options, allowing my staff to work from home in order to reduce the spread of COVID19 in the capital region. My state staff have been instructed to take additional precautions in my regional offices, including but not limited to, limiting public and in-person interactions, and expanding telework options where necessary and possible. The work for Idahoans continues, and my staff are readily available to address your concerns.
Now, our strong underlying economy needs our help, and I will continue working with my Senate colleagues and the Administration to move forward to assist workers, families and small businesses who face financial fallout during this extraordinarily difficult time.