In The News
OP-ED: Cooperation will help us defeat COVID-19
Harrisburg, April 21, 2020
Tags: Coronavirus Update
History and science have long noted that those who learned to collaborate and improvise have most effectively prevailed. To defeat the scourge and cruelty of COVID-19, we must now — more than ever — come together to reject the temptations of frustration, fear and partisanship, and embrace the spirit of this truth.
In our own corner of the commonwealth, the outbreak has changed nearly every aspect of our lives — drastically impacting the way (and if) we work, socialize and care for ourselves and loved ones.
That’s why, I’ve been leading weekly COVID-19 Tele-Town Halls to keep our friends and neighbors informed on the latest information and guidance to keep them safe and healthy. In less than a month, more than 28,000 of you have joined me to hear from a wide spectrum of our region’s and nation’s leading subject matter experts, who helped with topics like keeping our seniors and food safe, to proactively addressing mental health, to receiving federal and state economic relief.
I’ve been tremendously grateful to receive open hearts and helping hands from all across the political spectrum — to include Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry Secretary Jerry Oleksiak, and Director of Unemployment Compensation Benefits Susan Dickinson, who joined us recently to help us learn how to overcome obstacles in the ever-changing world of economic assistance.
We’ve been working literally around the clock to help job creators negotiate the obstacles of the new Small Business Association Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). Passed in the CARES Act, the PPP is saving jobs and livelihoods by supporting American small businesses during the economic crisis created by the spread of the coronavirus. According to the SBA, more than 1,650,000 loans were approved for small businesses, and more than $339 billion in loans were processed by 5,000 lenders, many of them local.
Most remarkably, the SBA processed more than 14 years’ worth of loans in less than 14 days. Unfortunately, as of this writing, the Paycheck Protection Program has run out of money. Job creators who need relief are now unable to apply for these loans, nor can new lenders sign up to distribute loans.
This is where the cooperation part of “prevailing” has come to a standstill. Regrettably, as many of you have come to understand all too painfully, many of my colleagues in Washington don’t look upon this crushing crisis as an opportunity to collaborate, but rather as a vibrant and welcoming playground for partisanship and pet projects.
To be sure, Phase III of the economic relief packages, while bipartisan in passage, was riddled with heavy-handed hijinks; to include billions in funding for projects far removed from COVID-19. Many members of Congress — to include me — quite literally were forced to accept the economic hostage situation that was the CARES Act, so our constituents weren’t left to suffer. When I’d called individuals and business owners to talk about this bill — and almost every one of them agreed how bad it was — they all had the same response: “You can’t vote FOR it. You can’t vote AGAINST it.”
We’ve seen the need coming for some time now to give our job creators more help, and tried desperately for the last week to authorize more funding for the PPP. We’ve been blocked in every way by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer.
Despite the overwhelming demand, Pelosi said that she hadn't seen data explaining why the PPP needed more money. Really? The funding is exhausted, Madame Speaker — along with the patience of many small business owners.
The fact remains that the demand for more PPP money is being held at bay by those who can’t otherwise win support for their legislative agenda by any legitimate means. Simply put, their wish to worsen the “Blue vs. Red” political divide just means more pink slips and white flags for our already beleaguered workforce. I genuinely hope that Congress can pass a clean bill and just get this done — without the nonsense and roughshod revenue spending. I’m doing everything I can to help this come to fruition.
In the meantime, I and my congressional staff continue to serve as a resource for you, your families and our communities. Our website (www.perry.house.gov) lists trusted resources and the most up-to-date information, and we’re here to help — day and night. To reach a member of my team, please call 202-225-5836 or 717-603-4980; we’re tirelessly doing everything we can to help you.
In the spirit of cooperation, our community has shown great fortitude and courage in fighting together against this invisible and formidable enemy. Let’s continue to cooperate and overcome until we triumph. Until then, please stay informed and stay safe.