Jul 28 2020

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) issued the following statement on the draft proposal HEALS Act and the next steps on bipartisan negotiations for the next COVID-19 relief package.

“My top priority is protecting the physical health and economic future of North Carolinians as we fight COVID-19. That’s why I’ve worked across the aisle to fund our hospitals and vaccine research and have championed a bipartisan program that has supported hundreds of thousands of North Carolina jobs,” said Senator Thom Tillis. “The draft proposal represents a starting point in the negotiations, and I’m glad it includes priorities I’ve championed to fund testing, support child care services, assist schools and keep students and teachers safe, and protect small businesses from trial lawyers. The next step in this process must be forging bipartisan consensus on key issues, including supplemental federal unemployment benefits and legal liability protections, which requires both parties to be pragmatic and focused on delivering solutions for the American people.”

Some of Tillis’ Legislative Priorities Included in the Draft Proposal:

Back To Work Child Care Grants, based on legislation co-sponsored by Senator Tillis

  • Provides 9-month financial assistance to child care providers to ensure a robust child care sector is available for working families.
  • Sends resources to states to avoid red-tape and delay.
  • Requires all providers to follow all state and local health and safety guidelines to keep children safe.

Support for Schools, Students, and Teachers

  • The draft proposal provides $105 billion to help get students back to school and provide for the continued learning of all students in K-12 schools and institutions of higher education. This includes:
    • $70 billion for the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund;
    • $29 billion for the Higher Education Emergency Relief (HEER) Fund;
    • $1 billion for the Bureau of Indian Education and outlying areas, and;
    • $5 billion for the Governors Emergency Education Relief Fund, which provides flexible funding to Governors to be used for early childhood education, elementary and secondary education, or higher education, based on the needs of the state.
  • Dedicates $2.9 billion within the HEER Fund in additional funding for Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Minority Serving Institutions.
  • Allows 43 million student loan borrowers to have a $0 monthly payment if they have no income; and when a borrower does begin earning income, their monthly payment will never be more than 10% of their income after deducting for the necessities of life, such as housing and food costs.
  • Provides $10.1 billion to reopen NIH-funded research laboratories and reconstitute lost research and $240 million to provide resources targeted to research students who need additional research time as post-doctoral candidates because of lost research/training due to COVID-19.

Strengthening the Strategic National Stockpile

  • Similar to bipartisan legislation previously introduced by Senator Tillis, the draft proposal improves the Strategic National Stockpile by partnering with medical product manufacturers, distributors, or other entities to increase the stockpiling and manufacturing capacity of reserve amounts of medical products to be provided during or in advance of a public health emergency.

Testing and Vaccine Development and Distribution

  • Testing: $16 billion for testing, contact tracing, and surveillance in states. This new funding, when combined with approximately $9 billion that remains unallocated from the PPP and Health Care Enhancement Act, would make $25 billion available for these purposes. 
  • BARDA: $20 billion for vaccine, therapeutic, and diagnostic development.
  • Vaccine Distribution: $6 billion to develop and execute a new COVID-19 vaccination distribution campaign coordinated through CDC.

Protecting Frontline Workers and Small Businesses

  • Help essential businesses that have remained open to stay open, and help other businesses to reopen safely and without fear so that North Carolina workers can earn paychecks;
  • Assist schools, colleges, and universities with reopening in the fall so that students can resume their educations;
  • Encourage and protect workers who return to their jobs by rewarding compliance with coronavirus-related public health guidelines;
  • Provide uniformity and predictability for good actors, and;
  • Ensure that bad-faith actors are held accountable for coronavirus-related related injuries.

More Relief for Small Businesses

  • The draft proposal includes a bipartisan bill co-introduced by Senator Tillis to streamline forgiveness of Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans for small businesses.
  • Forgiveness for PPP loans of $150,000 or less would be provided if the borrower submits a simple, one-page attestation form to the lender. It also ensures the lender will be held harmless from any enforcement action if the borrower’s attestation contained falsehoods.
  • The approximately 3.7 million PPP loans of $150,000 or less account for 85 percent of all PPP approved loans but only 26 percent of the PPP funds delivered. The cost of applying for forgiveness for a PPP loan of this size is $2,000 for the small business and $500 for the lender. The proposal could save small businesses $7.4 billion.