“Anyone in North Carolina that needs help, they can contact me at tillis.senate.gov. We want to do everything we can to help with individual cases. It could do with travel, any number of casework, all of my staff are available…We are available to help anybody that needs the help of the federal government.”
WASHINGTON, D.C. – This week, Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) has worked to keep North Carolinians informed on the federal response to combat coronavirus.
Senator Tillis continues to work on a bipartisan basis to protect the health and well-being of North Carolinians. Yesterday, Senator Tillis voted in favor of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, bipartisan legislation that will provide resources to combat coronavirus. The bill establishes an emergency paid leave program, increases unemployment benefits, and provides food aid during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Earlier this month, Senator Tillis helped secure $13.8 million for North Carolina’s immediate emergency preparedness efforts, with more resources to become available in the coming weeks, as part of legislation providing funding also helped to strengthen the national stockpile of medical supplies and health system preparedness and increased access to telehealth services.
Many working-class people in NC are now being asked to go days and weeks without work. Do you support checks, help to industries?
“I do, I just voted for the House package that will be sent to the president’s desk this afternoon. I think that we have to bridge the gap. This virus is going to play out, we hope based on what experts are telling us over the next 6 to 8 weeks, and in the meantime, we have to make sure people can pay their bills and have some stability while we combat the virus and get back to a strong economy.”
If the President signs this bill, and he likely will, when will that money be issued? Do you believe it’s possible to reach the 2-week timeline goal?
“I think so, right now I’m in Washington along with many of my colleague and we’re working on what they call the phase 3 bill, the second phase is the bill we voted on today. We’re putting that together so that we could start pushing the checks out the door through the IRS as early as the first week of April and be ready for a second set of payments a couple of weeks later. It’s within reach. It’s the reason why we’re using the IRS as the primary vehicle for doing it. That’s at least the plan right now but the goal is to put it through whichever channel gets to households as quickly as possible. And keep in mind this is going to be for people who are going to be the most economically stressed. There are going to be limits in terms of income for people who will be eligible for it, but a family of 4 or a single mom, or families like that who are most affected by the economic downturn we are experiencing as a result of the virus is our primary objective.”
Do you feel the President is declaring war on the virus?
“Well I think the President has all along. I think when he first made the decision - at the time seemed controversial but now I think it’s how many nations are combatting it - to shut down international travel from some of the more at risk countries. He’s already demonstrated decisive action with this first decision. This is a very fluid environment though. We are learning something every day. I talked to the Governor yesterday and I complimented the work that he is doing. We’re almost certainly going to rethink some of the decisions at the federal and state level and adjust as we get more information. That’s how you operate most effectively at a crisis environment that we find ourselves now.”
What is your message to the people of NC?
“I think the message should be that much of what we can do to combat the virus has to do with personal decisions that we all make. If you think you’re sick, don’t go to a doctor, call your doctor or call your local health department. Let them determine whether or not you need to be tested. Let’s make sure we make the medical resources, the healthcare providers, the first responders available to those who are most at risk. And the people most at risk are people over the age of 60 with underlying health conditions. The rest of us need to listen to our doctors, listen to the specialist, the experts and then do what we can to make it easier for us to weather the storm.”
“Senator Tillis said this is the most bipartisan effort he has gone through to date since he has been in politics…Senator Tillis said this would really benefit the people that are being hit hardest right now, including restaurant workers, single parents, hotel workers, small businesses, and anyone that has been laid off to help with the income that they have lost.”
“What I like right now is the bipartisan spirit from most members. We are trying to work together and really focus on things that get broad support and be prepared to add to it. We are learning as we hear more reports back from businesses and families about help that they need, then we need to pass legislation to give them that support.”
“This is going to be people who are the most economically stressed. There are going to be limits on income for people who will be eligible for it, but a family of four or a single mom who are most affected by the economic downturn that we are experiencing as a result of the virus are our most primary objective.”
“I think Governor Cooper has taken some decisive steps. As late as today he has made some changes to unemployment eligibility that I think makes sense. I also think it makes sense to reduce the number of places where unfamiliar people are getting together and providing more distance. We know that slows the spread of the virus.”