Hoeven Leads COVID-19 Response Discussion with Labor Secretary, ND WSI Directors & Business Leaders

Senator Urging Coronavirus Relief Fund Flexibility to Support State Unemployment Insurance Program, Outlines Assistance with Secretary, SBA & FEMA Officials

BISMARCK, N.D. – During a video conference with the Greater North Dakota Chamber (GNDC) today, Senator John Hoeven led a discussion on the federal government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic with North Dakota business leaders and administration and state officials, including U.S. Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia as well as officials from the Small Business Administration (SBA), Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and North Dakota Workforce Safety and Insurance (WSI).

Hoeven outlined the assistance provided under the three phases of legislation passed by Congress, including the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, and reviewed his ongoing efforts with the administration to implement the act’s programs, ensure they meet the needs of the state and prepare the next phases of assistance.

“North Dakota is working hard to combat COVID-19 and reduce the impacts on our businesses and families, and I appreciate Secretary Scalia, as well as leaders from the SBA and FEMA, for discussing with us how our efforts at the federal level can help us beat this virus and restart our economy as soon as possible,” Hoeven said. “Through the CARES Act and the other bills we’ve passed, we provided vital support across the board. However, there is still more work to do, like additional funding for the PPP, relief for the state’s unemployment program and future phases of our coronavirus response. These meetings are key to informing those efforts and making sure North Dakotans get their needs met.”

Specifically, the senator highlighted the:

  • Coronavirus Relief Fund – North Dakota will receive at least $1.25 billion under this fund to support its pandemic response. $8 billion of the fund is set aside for tribal governments.
    • Hoeven urged Scalia to work with him to ensure the state has the flexibility it needs to use the fund to relieve pressure on its unemployment insurance program.
  • SBA Loan Debt Relief – For a 6-month period, the SBA will pay the principal, interest and fees on eligible loans in “regular servicing status” with federal guarantees issued by the agency.
  • Direct Assistance to Individuals – provides up to $1,200 for individuals, $2,400 for married couples and an additional $500 per child. The payments begin phasing out for individuals and couples with incomes of $75,000 and $150,000, respectively.
  • Paycheck Protection Program – enables small businesses and self-employed individuals to maintain payroll through forgivable, federally-guaranteed loans.
    • Hoeven is working with Senate leadership to secure additional funding for the PPP, as the initial $350 billion from the CARES Act has been exhausted.
  • Pandemic Unemployment Assistance and Pandemic Unemployment Compensation – expands unemployment benefits to those who would otherwise be ineligible, including self-employed individuals and independent contractors.
    • The Phase II legislation also provided self-employed individuals with refundable tax credits for family and sick leave, covering those who are required to quarantine or are caring for a child who is sick or whose school or child care facility has closed.
  • Employee Retention Tax Credit – provides employers with a 50 percent refundable payroll tax credit for wages paid to employees, including those who are furloughed or facing reduced hours.
  • Economic Injury Disaster Loans and Loan Advance – provide loans of up to $2 million as well as a loan advance of up to $10,000 to cover a wide range of expenses. The emergency loan advance would not have to be repaid.

Today’s discussion comes as part of a series of meetings Hoeven has held to gather feedback on the CARES Act’s implementation and to ensure that North Dakotans can best access the assistance. In addition to Secretary Scalia, Hoeven hosted the following officials for the video conference with GNDC:

  • Bryan Klipfel, Director, North Dakota WSI.
  • Ryan Lambert, Senior Advisor, SBA Office of Congressional and Legislative Affairs.
  • Alan Haut, SBA North Dakota District Director.
  • Rob Glenn, Director, FEMA Office of Business, Industry, and Infrastructure Integration.
  • Nancy Dragani, Deputy Regional Administrator, FEMA Region 8.