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Congresswoman Ann McLane Kuster

Representing the 2nd District of New Hampshire

We’re all part of the solution

Apr 24, 2020
Catching up with Annie

Dear Friend,

It’s been a challenging several weeks as Granite Staters and folks nationwide continue to adjust to their temporary ‘new normals’ to stay healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s critical that at this time we focus on how we can all act to be a part of the solution to this public health crisis. After a busy week of speaking with local business leaders, agriculture officials, domestic and sexual violence advocates and more - I headed to DC to help pass our latest relief package. I remain energized as I continue my work to keep New Hampshire safe and healthy.

Our Federal Response to this Crisis

Yesterday, I traveled to Washington, DC and voted for the bipartisan Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Investment Act. This legislation will ensure that New Hampshire receives additional funding and support as we continue responding to the public health and economic crisis caused by the spread of COVID-19. While physical distancing is necessary and effective, our efforts to ‘flatten the curve’ have had far-reaching economic consequences for millions of Americans. This legislation will expand testing and provide additional support to our small businesses, hospitals, workers, and families so that we can continue our progress to stem the spread of COVID-19. You can watch me discuss my trip to Washington here

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Discussing my vote in Washington. Watch here.

Earlier in the week, I joined Adam Sexton on WMUR’s CloseUp to discuss our federal response to the COVID-19 pandemic in New Hampshire, my work to secure additional funding for our small businesses and rural communities, the necessity of expanding and increasing testing, and future plans to reopen our communities. When the time comes, we will need a conscientious approach to safely reopen our economy. You can watch the interview here

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On WMUR’s CloseUp with Adam Sexton. Watch here.

Protecting Stimulus Payments for Americans

I called on Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin to protect stimulus payments for individuals from private debt collectors. While Congress specifically exempted stimulus payments from some debts owed to states or the federal government, like student loans, due to a legislative oversight, nothing in the CARES Act explicitly protects these payments from private garnishments. These funds are intended to help families buy groceries, prescription medication, and other essential items during this public health crisis. Allowing debt collectors to stick their hands into the pockets of working people while we battle a historic illness is counter to the intent of these resources. I urge Secretary Mnuchin to prevent more Americans from needlessly suffering. 

Funding to Combat COVID-19

New Hampshire received the first half of the $1.25 billion included in the CARES Act this week. We owe a debt of gratitude to our first responders, health care providers, essential workers, and all who are on the frontlines as we work to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus – these federal dollars will help to ensure that they have the resources and support they need to continue responding to this emergency. This funding will bolster support for Granite State workers, small businesses, and families as we respond to this public health and economic crisis. I will continue to work with the Governor, our Congressional Delegation, and my colleagues in Congress to secure the funding and resources our state needs to get through this.

I was pleased to join the New Hampshire delegation to announce that the state will receive approximately $17 million for COVID-19 testing as part of the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Investment Act. Re-opening New Hampshire’s economy goes hand in hand with addressing the public health emergency posed by coronavirus. As we look towards recovery, it’s clear that we must be able to conduct widespread testing for COVID-19. This funding will help our state expand access to coronavirus testing so we can protect our frontline workers and prevent further spread of this virus within our communities.

Standing Up for Our Environment

On Wednesday, we celebrated the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. I fondly remember the first Earth Day, April 22, 1970, when I was a student at Rundlett Junior High in Concord. We organized students to pick up roadside trash all over town. For the young climate activists, stay strong and be bold. Your voice is important and you will create lasting change in our world - I know because we brought about meaningful change back then, and working together, we will again. To all who have found themselves spending more time outdoors and reconnecting with nature as we take measures to slow the spread of COVID-19 – on the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, let’s recommit ourselves to protecting our environment for future generations.

Reimbursing Communities for Costs Associated with COVID-19 

This week, I joined our state’s delegation in calling on President Trump to approve the state’s request for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to fully reimburse costs that New Hampshire incurs in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Our state and local partners on the front lines of this crisis have committed significant resources toward slowing the spread of COVID-19; however, the demands of responding to this pandemic have already oustripped many of the capabilities and resources of the state and local communities. It is critical that New Hampshire receives the full support of the federal government as it works to save lives.

Balancing the Public Health and Economic Implications of this Crisis

Over the last month, New Hampshire has seen an unprecedented number of unemployment claims – over 114,000, which equals the total claims over the past three years combined. At the same time, confirmed cases of COVID-19 have reached nearly 1,400. In a time of so much stress and uncertainty, this much is clear: the coronavirus crisis requires a coordinated response that takes into account the public health implications of COVID-19, as well as the economic ramifications of our response to this emergency.

Take a look at my op-ed in Sunday’s Union Leader to read about my efforts in Congress to support NH workers, families, health care employees, and small businesses as we work to get to the other side of this crisis. 

Protecting Access to Quality, Affordable Health Care 

I’m proud to join a bipartisan effort in Congress in calling on the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to expand Medicare coverage for telehealth services provided by physical and occupational therapists, speech language pathologists and audiologists. These providers offer critical care for many Medicare recipients, who are among our most vulnerable. As the covid-19 crisis continues, we must ensure these individuals can access the care they need without putting their health at risk. 

Earlier this week I spoke with leaders from several of New Hampshire’s leading substance misuse providers, including EasterSeals - Farnum Center, Families in Transition and Riverbend Community Mental Health. As the co-founder and chair of the Bipartisan Opioid Task Force, I heard first-hand about what many in the field are now describing as a dual public health crisis. Providers have quickly leveraged the expansion of telehealth to support group sessions, mental health counseling and related out-patient programming. I also heard about the challenges Substance Use Disorder providers have faced in accessing adequate personal protective equipment, as well as their desire for expanded access to rapid testing.

Keeping People Safe from Domestic and Sexual Violence  

On Wednesday, I hosted a Facebook Live conversation with Lyn Schollett, the Executive Director of the New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence. I am so tremendously proud of the work the Coalition and its partners across the state do to support survivors—particularly in these challenging times. Lyn provided insights on how to identify potential incidents of abuse and how we can all help those who are suffering find safety. If you or someone you love is experiencing violence, please call the New Hampshire Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-866-644-3574 or the New Hampshire Sexual Assault hotline at 1-800-277-5570. You can watch my conversation with Lyn here

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Watch my conversation with NHCADSV’s Lyn Schollett here.

Supporting Granite Staters with Disabilities 

This week, I spoke with Granite State Independent Living about the unique challenges the COVID-19 pandemic is having on in-home personal care services. I heard directly about the need for more widespread access to personal protective equipment and how we must continue to protect Granite State seniors, individuals living with disabilities and the workforce serving our friends and family members. 

Helping New Hampshire Farmers

This week, I spoke with our state’s Agriculture leaders and local farmers from across my district about pressing issues facing the farming sector and how we can best support their tireless efforts. The CARES Act provided $9.5 billion in emergency funds for farmers, and I wrote to Agriculture Secretary Perdue to ensure that small and local producers are not left out. 

After this week’s vote on supplemental Small Business Administration (SBA) funding, farmers are now eligible for both Economic Injury Disaster Loans and the Paycheck Protection Program. Now more than ever, we are recognizing the value of a consistent and reliable food system. I know I join all Granite Staters in thanking farmers for their hard work. To find a local grower near you, use this interactive map from our friends at UNH Extension.

Supporting Businesses 

On Wednesday, I spoke with the New Hampshire Community Loan Fund (NHCLF) about the tremendous work they are doing to help businesses and communities in their time of need. NHCLF provides technical assistance to businesses for a range of applications-whether it is a restaurant implementing online takeout for the first time or a small business that needs help applying for a PPP Loan. I remain committed to ensuring community development finance institutions like these can continue to provide these critical resources. 

I also spoke with the Cooperative Credit Union Association (CCUA). CCUA represents credit unions across New England and in New Hampshire. We discussed ways their members have been able to adapt to changing circumstances and still offer customers and borrowers banking services. Credit Unions have played a key role in implementing the Paycheck Protection Program. This week I voted in favor of increasing funding for PPP loans to help businesses get the funding they need to keep their businesses going. 

Maintaining Community Connections 

I joined a group meeting with the New Hampshire Library Association’s members and the leadership of the State of New Hampshire Library this week. Libraries have an important role in our communities, which is why I was glad New Hampshire’s libraries were supported with more than $122,000 in additional funds in the CARES Act. Additionally, I signed onto a letter to my colleagues calling for $2 billion in emergency funding for libraries through the Institute of Museum and Library Services. 

Looking out for Children

During this public health crisis, children across our state have lost an already fragile safety net and we must all do our part to protect our most vulnerable children during these unprecedented times. This week I checked in with our state’s Director of the Office of the Child Advocate, Moira O’Neill, who reminded us that simply checking in with parents who are home with young children is critical. If parents appear to be struggling, be sure they know where they can get help: urge them to call the 211 Infoline for local resources, New Hampshire Division for Children, Youth and Families (DCYF)  to report concerning stress levels, New Hampshire’s chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI-NH) at (603) 225-5359, or the Childhelp Hotline at 1-800-4-A-CHILD to speak or text with a crisis counselor. For further information, please visit the Office of the Child Advocate’s website

Keeping in Touch with Local Leaders

Like many of you, I am closely tracking the areas in the state with the highest concentrations of cases of COVID-19. Several towns in the southern tier are dealing with elevated instances of COVID-19, so I checked in with town administrators and emergency operations personnel in Hudson, Salem, Windham, and Pelham to get updates and thank them for their efforts. I continue to be impressed by the leadership of our cities and towns, especially those working at the local level on the front lines of this crisis, and I will continue working to get them the resources they need.

Bringing Americans Home from Abroad

I was pleased to assist dozens of Granite Staters in returning home over the past month from twelve different countries including Peru, Morocco and Honduras. If you are overseas and your travel has been impacted by COVID-19, register at step.state.gov to receive timely, country-specific updates about charter flights so you can get back to the United States safely. You can also notify the State Department of your situation by calling 1-888-407-4747 for callers located in the U.S. and Canada or 1-202-501-4444 for callers located overseas. Visit travel.state.gov for more information. 

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.

Sincerely,