Congressional Roundup: PPP money, ARP money, VA reform

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Pappas seeks PPP deadline extension

Following the news that the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) has run out of money and is closed to most new applicants, Congressman Chris Pappas (NH-01), a small business owner and Co-Chair of the bipartisan Small Business Caucus, is reiterating his call to Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy to work with the Small Business Administration (SBA) to ensure this vital small business lifeline has sufficient funds to continue providing loans to all eligible entities that apply through the May 31, 2021 deadline.

In March, President Biden signed into law legislation Pappas co-sponsored and worked to pass that extended the deadline for application to PPP until May 31, 2021.

Pappas led a letter to bipartisan leadership in the House urging them to take action before the PPP’s scheduled end. But on last week, the SBA stopped accepting most new applications.

“There could not be a worse time to slam the door on small businesses in New Hampshire and throughout the country as they seek help to pay their employees and keep their lights on,” said Congressman Pappas. “It should not have gotten to this point, and that’s why I called for action on this two weeks ago. It is critical that Congress work with the SBA to understand the scale of this funding gap and swiftly appropriate additional funds for the PPP so all entities who are eligible can receive a loan through May 31. By doing so, we can honor our commitments to small businesses and provide employers with the peace of mind that they will be able to access the federal support they need to overcome these challenging times.”

Congressional Delegation announces American Rescue Plan amounts coming to NH

U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and Representatives Annie Kuster (NH-02) and Chris Pappas (NH-01) announced today that New Hampshire will receive $1,456,856,670 in COVID-19 financial relief for the state and local governments through the American Rescue Plan that was passed by Congress and signed into law. These federal dollars also include greater flexibility in funding to respond to the unique local needs in communities across the Granite State. Senators Shaheen and Hassan’s leadership helped to secure robust flexible assistance for state and local governments during negotiations with colleagues in the Senate and with the Biden administration.

The resources announced by the delegation today are in addition to the $1.25 billion that the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) provided New Hampshire to compensate for COVID-19 emergency response efforts.

“Over the past year, Granite State leaders have been sounding the alarm on the severe financial impact this pandemic has had on state and local budgets. Communities across New Hampshire have been left cash-strapped as a result of increased costs and reduced revenues due to COVID-19, with many facing devastating cuts to basic services and brutal lay-offs of essential personnel like first responders, sanitation workers and teachers. With today’s announcement, I’m glad to say that help is on the way for our towns, cities and counties,” said Shaheen. “This urgently needed assistance also includes broad flexibility that will empower officials to effectively meet the unique needs of our communities and make critical investments, such as expanding access to broadband and providing housing and nutrition assistance. I strongly pushed for this relief in the American Rescue Plan and will continue to work with the Biden administration to provide our communities with the resources and support they need to get to the other side of this crisis.”

“This substantial federal funding will help New Hampshire not only recover from this pandemic, but also build the path for a strong economic future where all Granite Staters can thrive,” said Senator Hassan. “These federal dollars will help New Hampshire create more jobs, support public health, while also helping to prevent layoffs of law enforcement, fire fighters, and teachers. I will keep working to ensure that Granite Staters are receiving the resources that they need as we work together to overcome this pandemic.”

“This important, flexible funding from the American Rescue Plan Act will help to mitigate the far-reaching economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic in New Hampshire,” said  Kuster. “In order to fully recover and rebuild from this crisis, we must ensure our local governments and regional economies have the support and resources to make up for lost revenue, continue essential services uninterrupted, and avoid budget shortfalls. This significant, much-needed federal funding will be instrumental in New Hampshire’s ongoing pandemic response as we work to recover without leaving anyone behind. In Congress, I will continue to advocate for families, workers, and all Granite Staters as we build back better.”

“Since the onset of this pandemic I have fought to secure federal funds for our state and our municipalities who have stepped up to assist Granite Staters despite facing economic hardships themselves,” said Congressman Pappas. “These additional funds will ensure that our cities and towns do not need to cut critical services and can continue to support our citizens through these difficult times.”

New Hampshire will receive $1,456,856,670 in COVID-19 financial relief for the state and local governments through the American Rescue Plan. Of these funds, the state will receive approximately $994.6 million. The remainder will be distributed between the state’s counties, metropolitan cities and communities with populations of less than 50,000.

Hillsborough County will receive $81,002,217. Manchester will receive $43,281,853.

Shaheen and Hassan are members of the bipartisan, bicameral group of lawmakers that has steered negotiations of COVID-19 relief, and the delegation worked to secure the passage of the American Rescue Plan to respond to the full scope of this public health and economic emergency. The delegation announced $350.5 million to help schools safely re-open and support students, $20.2 million to help community health centers expand access to vaccines and $40.9 million to help expand COVID-19 testing in Granite State schools – funds made available as a result of the American Rescue Plan.

Shaheen & Warner Introduce Legislation to Help Reduce Veteran Disability Claims Backlog & Veteran Homelessness through Free Legal Clinics

U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Mark Warner (D-VA) today introduced legislation to increase cooperation between the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and veterans legal clinics. The Veterans Legal Support Act of 2021 would allow the VA to provide funding to law school legal clinics that provide pro bono legal services to veterans.

Law schools and their student volunteers have helped address disability claims backlogs and veterans homelessness in communities across the country. Under attorney supervision, students provide a range of pro bono legal services, including assistance with disability claims, foreclosures, bankruptcies, divorce, child custody and some minor criminal cases. By assisting veterans with complicated benefits claims, legal clinics are turning the VA’s most time consuming cases into organized applications that are significantly easier to process. In addition, preventative services like expedited claims assistance and legal counsel offer veterans an opportunity to address challenges before they deteriorate, often resulting in significant long-term savings to the government.

“Veterans legal clinics do tremendous work serving our most vulnerable veterans, allowing them to access essential, high-quality legal services. With many veterans facing bureaucratic challenges exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic – on issues like foreclosure, accessing public benefits and processing disability claims – ensuring they have access to legal assistance has never been more important,” said Senator Shaheen. “My bill with Senator Warner allows the VA to work more closely with law school legal clinics to provide critical assistance to the brave men and women who have served and sacrificed for our nation.”

“It’s an unfortunate reality that too many of our nation’s veterans encounter bureaucratic obstacles in accessing the assistance or benefits they’ve rightfully earned. In order to help address these challenges, veterans legal clinics have stepped in to provide free quality legal services to help veterans cut through the red tape,” said Senator Warner. “Given the extraordinary sacrifices our veterans have made for our country, I’m proud to be introducing this bill to help our veterans get the timely assistance they need.”

The text of the bill can be read here.