A northern Missouri congressman who’s a dean in the state’s congressional delegation says the $2 trillion economic stimulus package is aimed at helping America emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic stronger.
U.S. Rep. Sam Graves, R-Tarkio, voted for the bill on Friday. He says the bill provides $350 billion to the Small Business Administration (SBA), to supply main street businesses with the capital they need to keep the lights on and their workers on the payroll.
“And as long as they (main street businesses) continue to keep them on the payroll through July 2, then that becomes forgiven,” Graves says.
Governor Mike Parson has warned that thousands of Missourians will lose their jobs due to the outbreak. Congressman Graves says the stimulus boosts unemployment benefits for the millions of Americans who’ve lost their jobs.
Graves represents 36 counties in northern Missouri. His sprawling district is larger than nine U.S. states, and includes St. Joseph, Chillicothe, Bethany, Kirksville and Hannibal.
Congressman Graves tells Missourinet that some hospitals in his district have struggled to get personal protective equipment (PPE), like masks. He notes the stimulus package also includes $117 billion in funding for hospitals and the Veterans Administration (VA) to care for patients and to protect health care employees battling the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Those of us who represent rural areas want to make sure that rural hospitals have every bit as much equipment as they need to combat this,” says Graves. “So far, they have not been overrun, but that could quickly, quickly change.”
Parson announced Monday afternoon that the state’s Strategic National Stockpile has now shipped 7,000 gloves and 3,300 cases of masks to hospitals, EMS and long-term care facilities.
State health officials say there are now 1,031 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Missouri, along with 13 deaths.
As for Graves, he says church groups and other organizations are grocery shopping for seniors in his district, to help the seniors limit their exposure during the COVID-19 outbreak. Graves’ district has a large elderly population.
“And that’s what rural Missouri is about and all of our rural areas. We take care of people and we take care of our neighbors and our family, and that’s very heartwarming,” Graves says.
Graves says the pandemic has posed an unprecedented challenge for America, and that Americans have responded with unprecedented patriotism.
Graves and U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley (R) say the stimulus will also provide most American adults with $1,200 checks to help them make ends meet during the outbreak.
Click here to listen to the full interview between Missourinet’s Brian Hauswirth and U.S. Rep. Sam Graves, R-Tarkio, which was recorded on March 30, 2020:
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