I hope everyone had a happy and healthy holiday season. Over the past two weeks, I have been hard at work fighting for ways to help us all return to a more normal life in 2021. In this newsletter, I will provide a brief overview of the many provisions that I fought to have included in the COVID relief package and the government funding omnibus. For a more in-depth look into each of these, please sign up for my area-specific newsletters here.
What’s going on in Health Care?
The pandemic relief package provided $20 billion for the purchase of new vaccines, ensuring that anyone who wants an FDA-authorized vaccine can receive one free of charge. The legislation also provided $20 billion to help states with testing.
The package included provisions aimed at expanding telehealth access. In these uncertain times, many people do not feel safe outside of their home, and better access to telehealth gives our older and more vulnerable population greater opportunities for better healthcare.
Also in the package, The Better Tools for Healthy Living Act, which I authored and introduced last year, was also included, directing the Director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to create a guide for effective strategies to help states and localities ramp up their efforts to prevent and combat obesity.
As a former small business owner myself, I know how important they are to our communities. The new pandemic relief package includes $325 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program, as well as funding for PPE and $20 billion for Economic Injury Disaster Loans. By increasing PPP funding, streamlining loan forgiveness, and setting aside specific amounts for community-oriented financial institutions, countless jobs will be saved and small business owners will have more security through the winter.
New in Education
Last Thursday, the President signed the HBCU PARTNERS Act into law. This law, which I wrote and introduced with a bipartisan group of my colleagues last year, will strengthen partnerships between HBCUs and federal agencies, which is a big win for the future of these vital institutions.
In the pandemic relief package, I made sure that school choice and educational opportunities were a priority. Money is being allocated to schools, both private and public, through the Governor’s Education Emergency Relief (GEER) Fund, to ensure that every student can return to a safe and clean environment.
In the government funding omnibus, I fought for the simplification of the FAFSA, the form that families complete in order to apply for financial aid to assist them in pursuing higher education. The package included a provision that will reduce total questions on the FAFSA from 108 to a maximum of 36, building on last year’s FUTURE Act.
Thank you for staying updated on my work from week to week. Don’t forget, you can sign up for all my issue-specific newsletters, in addition to my weekly update, here. Also, please remember to follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube for regular updates on how I am serving the people of South Carolina here in Washington.
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