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Lankford Supports Emergency Relief for Families, Individuals and Businesses

WASHINGTON, DC – Senator James Lankford (R-OK) today issued a statement following the vote on the third phase of emergency assistance to address the ongoing pandemic of COVID-19.

“The Senate has taken action to meet the needs of Oklahomans and their families. Every aspect of our communities isbeing affected by this crisis, and it’s critical that Congress provide much-needed support and assistance in this unprecedented time of need,” said Lankford. “Every American is called to stop this pandemic by taking action to slow the spread of the virus for 15 days. This comes at a great consequence to many American workers and small businesses. This bill is targeted at the heart of our Oklahoma economy—small businesses, the workers they employ, and the families they serve.

“Our nation and our state are resilient. We know what it means to work together to get through difficult times.”

The bill includes:

  • $150 billion in emergency funding for state and local governments, including at least $1.25 billion for Oklahoma. 
  • Direct checks to adult individuals for $1,200, $2,400 for married couples, and an additional $500 for dependents.
  • Four months of increased unemployment insurance to Americans who lose their jobs in response to the crisis. 
  • $117 billion for hospitals, senior living centers, and veterans’ health care.
  • $11 bill for vaccines, therapeutics, diagnostics, and other preparation needs. 
  • $4.3 billion for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, $16 billion for the Strategic National Preparation Stockpile. 
  • $45 bill for Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Disaster Relief Fund. 
  • $30 billion for education for K-12 and higher education. $1.8 billion to refund student loan payments.
  • Support for small business and nonprofits through a $367 billion loan to grant program that pays the payroll while employees are out of work. The loan of up to $10 million will be forgiven if used for payroll, utilities, or lease payments.
  • Clarifies that all testing for COVID-19 is to be covered by private insurance plans without cost sharing.
  • Makes available loans from the Treasury for passenger and cargo air carriers and for businesses critical to national security.
  • Includes charitable giving dedication of $300, which Lankford advocated for. Lankford offered an amendment that would have increased the limit to one-third the standard dedication ($4,000 for individuals and $8,000 for married couples). The amendment was supported by over 3,200 nonprofit organizations nation-wide.  
  • Three-month extension, which Lankford introduced last week, of the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards regulatory program on high-risk chemical facilities. The program was set to expire on April 18, 2020. 

Lankford’s response to COVID-19:

  • Led the effort to allow individuals to deduct their nonprofit donations from their taxes. Support for our local nonprofits is an essential part of our national safety net. Filled an amendment that would increase the amount Americans could deduct on charitable contributions from $300 to one-third the standard deduction ($4,000 for individuals/$8,000 for married couples).
  • Introduced a bipartisan bill to allow all telework-eligible federal workers to telework full-time and evaluate whether non-telework-eligible employees can be telework-eligible during the current public COVID-19 health emergency.
  • Ensured that nonprofits would be eligible for small business assistance under the Phase 3 coronavirus bill.
  • Coordinated the return of many Oklahomans abroad since the State Department announcement of Level 4 travel warning. For any Oklahoman who needs assistance returning to Oklahoma, please call 405-231-4941.
  • Cosponsored legislation, that was already signed into law, to allow veterans to continue to receive their education benefits from the GI bill as more classes are moving online.  
  • Held telephone townhall meetings, one with Dr. Dale Braztler, Professor, Colleges of Medicine and Public Health, to answer questions from Oklahomans regarding health and economic impacts of COVID-19 and will participate in a telephone townhall with AARP Oklahoma on Thursday, March 26.  
  • Worked with local industries including small businesses, nonprofits, hospitability, oil, agriculture, industry workers, mayors, and many more to listen to their concerns and address their questions regarding the federal response to COVID-19.
  • Worked with national and Oklahoma banking institutions to give grace to consumers.   
  • Supported $8.3 billion in the first phase of funding to states ($6,925,000 went to Oklahoma) and federal agencies to prepare for and contain the spread of COVID-19.
  • Supported small businesses and employees by speaking out against a new mandate that would have harmful impacts on small businesses during the crisis. This provision was fixed in phase three relief package, which Lankford supported.
  • Pushed for US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross to investigate excessive dumping of oil by Russia and Saudi Arabia which has destabilized global oil markets. Spoke with Saudi leadership about the current energy crisis.  

Precautionary changes to Oklahoma City, Tulsa, and Washington, DC, offices:

In order to protect the health and safety of Oklahomans, Lankford announced the operations of the Tulsa, Oklahoma City, and Washington, DC, offices will move to full-time telework until further notice. In order to protect the health and safety of Oklahomans, Lankford has closed the physical offices to staff and visitors. Senator Lankford’s office will continue remote work to respond to telephone calls, casework assistance, email, and mail correspondence, and Lankford will still meet virtually with Oklahomans. For contact information, please visit his website, www.lankford.senate.gov

If you are experience symptoms or have questions regarding COVID-19 you can call the Oklahoma State Department of Health COVID-19 call center at 877-215-8336 or 2-1-1. The call lines are open 24-7.