Congressman Brown Calls on Gov. Hogan to Support Additional COVID-19 Relief
Will Hogan support Biden-endorsed Heroes Act or continue blaming both sides?
Washington, November 19, 2020
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Anthony G. Brown (MD-04) wrote a letter calling on Maryland Governor Larry Hogan to clarify his position on additional COVID-19 pandemic and aid struggling families. Today, the National Governors Association’s Executive Committee meets with President-elect Biden on the COVID-19 pandemic response. Governor Hogan should outline whether he supports the House passed and President-elect Biden endorsed Heroes Act.
On November 16, Governor Hogan wrote to the members of Maryland’s congressional delegation urging the passage of additional COVID-19 stimulus relief. Congressman Brown agrees on the need for more aid, particularly as Maryland sees another surge in infections and benefits are set to expire.
On May 15, the House of Representatives passed the Heroes Act to support frontline and essential workers, provide funds for testing and PPE and provide aid to small businesses. Under this legislation, states would also receive $500 billion in flexible aid—fulfilling Governor Hogan’s request as Chair of the National Governors Association (NGA).
“President-Elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. endorsed the Heroes Act and called on Congress to pass a relief package for the American people. He once again reiterated that any relief package must include aid for cities and states,” wrote Congressman Brown. “Do you join the President-Elect in his support of the Heroes Act, and if so are you willing to publicly call for its passage?”
Senate Republicans and President Trump have refused to bring the Heroes Act to a vote or negotiate to provide meaningful aid at the level needed to overcome the challenges this country faces from COVID-19.
Read the full letter below.
Dear Governor Hogan:
Thank you for your letter requesting a new stimulus relief bill. I wholeheartedly agree that an additional stimulus package—signed into law as expeditiously as possible—is of urgent importance to this country. As you know, the COVID-19 pandemic has taken heavy tolls on our public health and on our economy. Across the state and nation, Marylanders and Americans alike are struggling to make ends meet while also keeping themselves and others healthy. From the start of this public health emergency, there was no telling how long this pandemic would last, and as such, Congress passed the CARES Act in March with the optimism that the worse would be over by now. Yet COVID-19 has made it abundantly clear that it is on a different timeline.
Today, the country is experiencing a resurgence and COVID-19 is again overwhelming our hospitals, resources, and frontline health workers. Since President Trump signed the CARES Act on March 27th, 244,943 Americans have died, 11,097,784 have been infected, and more than 400,000 businesses have permanently closed. More than 20 million Americans are receiving unemployment insurance benefits. Our state, local and tribal governments are warning of dramatic closures and cuts without additional federal assistance. It is clear that Americans still need relief; however, the programs that the CARES Act created to help these struggling Americans and businesses—the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), unemployment assistance, relief funds for health providers—have lapsed and are now inaccessible to those who continue to need them.
Accordingly, my colleagues and I in the House of Representatives passed two major relief measures. On May 15, 2020, the House passed the Heroes Act to support our frontline and essential workers, provide funds for testing and PPE, and launch a new round of PPP. Under this legislation, states would have received $500 billion in flexible aid—fulfilling your request as Chair of the National Governors Association (NGA)—while local governments would have received $250 billion, all available until expended.
When the Senate failed to take up this relief bill, and in an attempt to compromise with the Trump Administration, House Democrats continued to work on behalf of the American people. We lowered our request by $1.2 trillion and passed an updated version of the Heroes Act on October 1, 2020. Again, this package included funds for state and local governments, $238 billion and $179 billion respectively. Maryland itself would have received an estimated $3.93 billion. Yet this smaller legislation was still not palatable enough for Senate Republicans to resume work towards a compromise, and instead they have lowered their proposal from $1 trillion to $500 billion, despite the consensus that more aid—not less—is needed at this critical time. The artificial line in the sand Senate Majority Leader McConnell and Senate Republicans have drawn wouldn’t allow for adequate assistance for struggling families let alone the $500 billion in state funds that you have previously supported. Worse yet, President Trump and Leader McConnell see state and local aid as a partisan issue, saying the revenue shortfall was caused by “Blue States,” any fiscal aid would be a “slush fund,” and that states should consider filing for bankruptcy.
There is no mistaking Democrats have acted swiftly on numerous occasions to provide relief, while the GOP has very little to show for its efforts. We need meaningful relief—aid for schools, small businesses, and individuals; more support for hospitals, essential workers, and vaccine distribution; and assistance for the millions unemployed and facing eviction and hunger. It is more critical now than ever before that a compromise is reached on behalf of the American public. This can only be achieved by the Senate Republicans joining us at the table and supporting a bipartisan relief agreement that meets the needs of the country.
Most recently, President-Elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. endorsed the Heroes Act and called on Congress to pass a relief package for the American people. He once again reiterated that any relief package must include aid for cities and states. Do you join the President-Elect in his support of the Heroes Act, and if so are you willing to publicly call for its passage? And if not, what specific steps do you believe Democrats and the GOP should take to reach an adequate agreement? Do you continue to support $500 billion in direct aid to states being included in any relief package, and do you consider the current Republican proposal—which includes no new aid—on this issue sufficient?
Any information that you could provide on your position regarding this impasse would be greatly appreciated, and certainly assist us in our deliberations. Thank you for your continued leadership amidst the COVID-19 PHE.