Senator Shaheen on the Next Federal Stimulus Package: “We Need to Do an Analysis of What’s Working and What’s Not, And Then Make Some Decisions About What We’re Going to Do Next.”
In an interview with Chris Ryan, Senator Jeanne Shaheen discussed the following aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic: Governor Sununu’s plan to gradually reopen the New Hampshire economy; current challenges which we face in dealing with the Coronavirus; and what does Congress need to include in the next stimulus package.
In regard to what is being called Governor Sununu’s “Stay at Home Order 2.0”, Senator Shaheen supports the idea of going with a slow reopening of the economy, and she likes that the Governor is letting the science guide what he is doing and that he has been listening to various sectors of the economy.
However, Senator Shaheen sees that presently there are two huge challenges: 1) Lack of adequate testing; and 2) Lack of PPE-Personal Protection Equipment, such as masks, gloves, and gowns. She mentioned the recent problems at the US Navy Shipyards in Portsmouth, NH, and workers in extended care facilities, as an example. The Senator believes that a reliable supply chain of testing equipment and PPE still needs to be developed, to provide a safe environment for consumers and workers in a reopened economy.
The US Senate is currently back in session and is considering new legislation to help the nation deal with the effects of the COVID-19 shutdown. President Trump, Senate Majority Leader McConnell, and Speaker of the House of Representatives Pelosi all have different priorities in mind for the next stimulus package. Senator Shaheen believes that there will be a need for federal spending to aid businesses and individuals for a long time. As an example, she discussed a conversation which she had with some people in the hospitality industry who had received loans from the PPP-Payroll Protection Plan. The loans will run out in July and leave them without funds in the middle of the tourist season. The Senator also pointed out that many state and local governments are in dire straits because they had to reallocate funds to deal with the Coronavirus. In response to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s comment about letting states declare bankruptcy, Senator Shaheen said, “That’s not helpful. We need to work together here to address the challenges that everybody faces.”
In conclusion, Senator Shaheen feels that in the next stimulus package there is a need for a continuation of relief programs and for spending on an infrastructure package. By infrastructure, the Senator means roads, bridges, and improved internet availability. Before we take any new steps, Senator Shaheen has called for an analysis of the various programs that have already been put in place. She wants to know why some big corporations were able to get loans that were supposed to go to small businesses.
“We’ve got to continue to provide help, but we’ve got to make sure that it goes to the people who need it the most.”