A Time to Reflect and Remember
As we look forward to the long weekend, let us also remember that Monday is a somber day. Memorial Day is a time to reflect and remember the brave and selfless individuals who gave their lives in service to our country. To the families and friends of those who lost their lives, we express our profound sorrow, but also gratitude for the incredible sacrifices you and your loved one have made on behalf of our nation.
Of course, Memorial Day this year comes with the additional sadness and difficulty of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. As we take measures to slow the spread of this virus and keep our loved ones safe, many families will not be able to be together in person. But physical distancing doesn’t need to mean social isolation - I encourage you to pick up the phone or spend time with your loved ones virtually.
As Dr. Anthony Fauci suggested, "Go out, wear a mask, stay 6 feet away from anyone so you have the physical distancing. Go for a run. Go for a walk. Go fishing. As long as you're not in a crowd and you're not in a situation where you can physically transmit the virus."
I’m continuing my work to support Granite Staters and ensure everyone has the resources they need to get through this challenging time. We’ve made a lot of progress, but there is still more to do, and I’m committed to working with my colleagues to help Americans weather this storm.
Ensuring Granite Staters Have the Masks They Need
This morning, I joined with the Rotary Club of Concord to help distribute free reusable cloth masks to Granite Staters as part of the “Mask Up, New Hampshire!” effort. The masks have been donated by Alex Ray and the Common Man Family and are distributed using the Common Man Trolley repurposed as the “MaskMobile.” Wearing a mask is critical to reducing the transmission of COVID-19 between individuals and I’m glad I was able to help ensure Granite Staters can take this protective measure.
|Handing Out Masks this Morning in Concord|
We Must Support the National Guard
I’m angered and outraged over the decision by the Trump Administration and Department of Defense to end the National Guard’s deployments on June 24, 2020 - one day before the 90-day requirement the men and women who are serving our nation would need to reach to qualify for early retirement and post-9/11 GI Bill benefits. The New Hampshire National Guard is working to bolster testing efforts, provide support at our employment offices to ensure that Granite Staters receive their unemployment benefits, partner with food banks to get food to those in need, and more. The Trump Administration's decision to end these deployments is unpatriotic and will bring an early end to the critical support that the National Guard is providing to communities across the country.
As a result of this decision, today I introduced the National Guard COVID-19 Response Stability Act in the U.S. House of Representatives. This legislation will empower governors to extend federal deployments of their Guard units through the duration of the COVID-19 public health emergency. I thank Senator Tammy Duckworth for her leadership and for introducing this bill in the Senate, and I'm proud to bring forth this legislation in the House to ensure that the National Guard receive the benefits they deserve for serving our nation in its time of need.
Joining the NH Delegation to Call for Funding
This week, the New Hampshire delegation called for additional funding in the next COVID-19 relief package to support those who are experiencing - or are at risk of experiencing - homelessness. Ensuring that individuals experiencing homelessness have the resources that they need to practice social distancing and self-quarantine if needed is critical to mitigating the spread of the virus, both now and over the coming months.
I also joined with the delegation in calling on the Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to help individuals who did not receive their COVID-19 stimulus payments or received inaccurate payments as soon as possible. We commend the work of these agencies in rapidly distributing approximately 130 million stimulus payments, however, struggling families in New Hampshire cannot wait until 2021 to receive the full stimulus payments to which they are entitled by law.
On Monday, the New Hampshire delegation sent a letter to Secretary Steve Mnuchin calling on the Treasury to provide flexibility to small businesses to extend the term of their loans from 2 years to 10 years and give businesses that have already received these loans the option to refinance at 10 years. This step will provide a much-needed reprieve to small businesses struggling to keep their doors open during the prolonged recovery period, as every dollar a small business owner must expend to meet federal loan obligations is a dollar that cannot be spent on overhead, payroll or other immediate costs.
Oversight and Accountability of America’s Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic
On Thursday, I joined my colleagues on the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight to discuss the committee’s plan for conducting oversight of the Federal government’s continued response to COVID-19. As Americans continue to take steps to bend the curve, it is critical that Congress receives answers and insight into the Trump Administration’s handling of this pandemic. These hearings will inform our work moving forward as we continue to advance legislation that combats this public health crisis and protects small businesses and workers impacted by COVID-19. I look forward to participating in these hearings in the coming weeks.
Updates and News You Can Use
Congressman Pappas and I held our 11th telephone town hall on Wednesday to discuss COVID-19 and take questions from Granite Staters. I thank Taylor Caswell and Kevin McKeon for taking part in this week’s call. As always, if you have questions or are in need of assistance, please contact my team by giving our Concord office a call at (603) 226-1002 or visit my website at Kuster.house.gov.
On Wednesday, I was part of a call with Dr. Anthony Fauci that was hosted by the New Democrat Coalition. He shared his expertise and insights on the COVID-19 pandemic, vaccine development, testing, and treatment. I’m so grateful to Dr. Fauci and all of our nation’s dedicated doctors and scientists.
I was pleased to hear on a call with the New Hampshire Food Bank this week that the Bank will receive up to $5 million in funding from the Cares Act and that they have begun receiving food from local farms through the USDA’s Coronavirus Food Assistance Program. If you are in need of food, please find your local food pantry here: https://www.nhfoodbank.org/need-food/ or call 1-866-3-HUNGRY to speak with a representative.
This week, I held a call with New Hampshire childcare groups. To provide immediate financial relief and recovery support to child care providers throughout the state, $25 million dollars in emergency funding has been directed to the NH Department of Health and Human Services. These funds are available for child care providers that have applied to become designated as Emergency Child Care Programs (ECCP). Providers can apply here now. To learn more about how ECCP’s will be able to access the funding, join the town hall hosted by Child Care Aware of NH on Thursday, May 29th at 12:30 pm.
I’m touched by the enduring spirit of the class of 2020, who despite such uncertain times, is completing a significant chapter of their lives. As our graduates walk across their living room floors instead of graduation stages this spring, I look forward to all that is ahead of them. Congratulations, graduates! You make the Granite State so proud!
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (NH DHHS) are the best resources to turn to during this public health emergency.
Remember: Keep calm and wash your hands. If you are sick, stay home and call your health care provider. If you live in NH and have questions about coronavirus, dial 2-1-1. Visit CDC.gov for more information.