I hope that this newsletter finds you and your families safe and healthy in these uncertain times. I wanted to update you on some of the legislation that I have been working on in the House of Representatives that will have a positive impact on Oregon's Fifth DistrIct. Additionally, I wanted to remind you of resources on my website for small businesses and individuals facing challenges due to COVID-19. If you need further assistance, caseworkers are standing by to help at 503-557-1324.
Nearly $14 million in CARES Act grants were awarded to Fifth District small businesses through the Economic Development Administration (EDA). These funds will provide urgently needed financing to small businesses and entrepreneurs who have been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. Small businesses are the lifeblood of Oregon’s economy and these funds will help hardworking business owners keep their doors open and employees taken care of during these challenging times.I am glad to see these CARES funds being distributed quickly and going directly into the hands of Oregonians who need them the most.
The announced EDA investments went to:
· Oregon Business Development Department, Salem, Oregon, will receive an $11 million EDA CARES Act Recovery Assistance grant to provide financing to small businesses impacted by the coronavirus pandemic in all cities and counties in the state of Oregon.
· Mid-Willamette Council of Governments, Salem, Oregon, will receive a $2.57 million EDA CARES Act Recovery Assistance grant to assist small businesses with expanding or starting new ventures and will provide loans to coronavirus impacted businesses in Marion, Polk and Yamhill counties.
In July, the House finally passed the bipartisan Great American Outdoors Act. This bill will permanently fund the Land and Water Conservation Act so that generations to come can enjoy our nation's beautiful public lands. This is a HUGE win for all Americans. These critical conservation projects now have permanent, secure funding and are no longer at the whims of which party is in control of Congress.
The House of Representatives recently passed the bipartisan Water Resource Development Act. This bipartisan legislation will have major impact on our coastal Oregon communities. Included in this year’s bill are changes that I worked on to transfer the Willamette Falls Locks from federal control to a commission at the state level that can provide more local control to repair and reopen this critical navigation channel. Further, updated language on the Willamette River Basin Review Reallocation Study was included and will help to allocate Willamette River water reservoirs for municipal, agricultural and conservation uses. It also included language that will finally fully fund the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund so that our coastal ports can get critical infrastructure projects funded in a timely manner. Read more here.
It was announced this week that NOAA Fisheries will be reducing the the outstanding principal balance on the Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishing Capacity Reduction Buyback Loan by nearly $6 million dollars, an action that I have long championed in Congress. This reduction is due to language that I successfully added to the House Appropriations bill that passed last December. With this loan reduction, the outstanding balance will be reduced to $13.3 million dollars. It cannot be overstated what an important step this is to reducing the incredible debt burden on our Oregon fisheries. For years, I have been working in Congress to address this issue and get some relief for our hardworking trawl fishermen. Funds that would have otherwise left the state will now remain in fishing communities at a time when they need them the most. I will continue to work tirelessly to pursue other ways to reduce the rest of this debt burden for my constituents on the coast.
While not a perfect bill, this year’s National Defense Authorization Act included much needed pay raises for our brave service members and increased funding to strengthen our nation’s pandemic response. It also includes an amendment that would limit presidential authority around the Insurrection Act that would help prevent future instances of federal law enforcement overreach like we are currently seeing in our home state of Oregon. Building off of language included last year to protect service members financial well-being, I introduced a new amendment that was voice voted. This amendment will require service members who start to receive Basic Allowance for Housing to get a rundown of their rights under federal law. Educating service members of their rights will go a long way to halting exploitation of our fighting men and women by financial institutions who were foreclosing on them while they were overseas simply because many servicemembers didn't know their rights. Additionally, this year’s NDAA includes $1 billion in funding to establish a Pandemic Preparedness and Resilience National Security Fund. This would restore funding to biological and chemical threat reduction programs that have been cut under the current administration. It would also require federal agencies to develop and maintain stockpiles of critical medical supplies and protective equipment. Learn more about the legislation here.
The House of Representatives recently passed a six-bill minibus appropriations package. This bill totaled $1.3 trillion in discretionary funding and consists of six FY 2021 appropriations bills: Defense, Commerce-Justice-Science, Energy and Water Development, Financial Service and General Government, Labor-HHS-Education, and Transportation-Housing and Urban Development. This package included my One Health framework that will direct the CDC to develop a national standard to combat the threat of zoonotic diseases and advance emergency preparedness. This will make sure that all of our federal agencies have a common approach and coordination. It is clear, now more than ever, that this is critical, lifesaving legislation will help the United States prepare for future pandemics and better respond to them. Further, I was pleased to see the inclusion of important fisheries provisions that will have significant positive effects on our West Coast fisheries. This bill rejects President Trump’s proposed termination of the Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery Fund, a program that I have long supported. In addition to important public health and fisheries funding that will directly impact Oregon’s Fifth district, this bill includes housing vouchers for veterans experiencing homelessness that the Trump administration has on several occasions proposed eliminating but never successfully done so.
Are you an Oregon fishery in need of federal assistance? The application period for Oregon fishing business seeking relief for COVID-19 impacts is now open. Follow this link to learn more about whether you qualify, and how to submit an application before the deadline of September 8, 2020. Apply online here.
Member of Congress