U.S. Senator Roy Blunt talks with AIM regarding federal COVID-19 relief
APRIL 9, 2020 - U.S. Senator Roy Blunt joined Associated Industries of Missouri President/CEO Ray McCarty for a conversation regarding federal government relief for businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Senator Blunt opened the call with news that the U.S. Senate had just debated, and Democrats had defeated, a $250 billion package meant to augment the CARES Act. Democrats wanted an additional $250 billion for a total of $500 billion and other changes Republicans were not willing to make, according to Senator Blunt.
Senator Blunt an amendment was proposed by Republicans during debate of the original CARES Act that would have limited combined unemployment payments to the amount of the recently unemployed worker's pay, up to $600 in additional benefit. Senator Blunt said he supported the amendment because the bill was meant to hold workers harmless, not create and incentive to not work. That amendment was defeated on a 48-48 vote and the $600 benefit was allowed to all unemployed workers, regardless of their pay amount in addition to any state unemployment benefits. In Missouri, a worker could earn up to $920 per week on unemployment, regardless of their level of pay at the time of layoff or separation.
Questions regarding details of the federal assistance from members of Associated Industries of Missouri were answered during the call. Nearly 70 business leaders participated in the call.
McCarty asked whether the federal government had discussed providing protection from liability for businesses that change their manufacturing processes to begin making personal protective equipment (PPE) such as masks, shields, gowns and ventilators. McCarty noted a federal provision shields businesses from liability if they are selling the products to the U.S. Government, but it was unclear if those selling directly to healthcare providers, police, fire and other front-line workers were relieved of liability. McCarty noted AIM was seeking some protection at the state level, but appreciated Senator Blunt keeping this in mind as any future relief packages are considered, especially since Missouri manufacturers are helping save lives by making PPE.
Senator Blunt closed the call by indicating he appreciated the dialog and the efforts of AIM and the Missouri business community in rising to the needs created by this novel pandemic and that he was working hard with his colleagues and President Trump to try to help solve problems created by the COVID-19 virus.