**A letter from Congressman Connolly in response to the COVID-19 pandemic**
First and foremost, I hope this letter finds you and your loved ones safe and healthy. I wanted to give you a quick update on what I’ve been working on during the coronavirus pandemic and of course make sure you knew if there’s anything you need during these difficult times our office is here to help.
The work we do as members of Congress has never been more important. While social distancing I have continued to fight hard for my constituents. We have helped dozens of residents of our district get home safely who were stuck overseas. I’ve led conference calls with our hospitals to make sure they have the resources they need to treat patients and keep doctors, nurses and everyone who works there safe. I’ve hosted Zooms with local chambers of commerce to help small businesses get access to loans they need to keep payroll running. We’re helping constituents apply for unemployment and getting federal employees and contractors switched to telework so they can keep working for the American people from home.
We passed the CARES Act, which is perhaps the most progressive piece of legislation in decades. Most adults will get $1,200 and families with children will get another $500 per child. The 16 million people now unemployed (and that number will only grow) will get an additional $600 a week, on top of their normal unemployment and extended it up to 39 weeks. Small businesses now have access to $349 billion in SBA loans that will be forgiven if used to maintain payroll, pay rent, or existing debt payments.
Sadly, two areas have been left unaddressed by Congress: aid to state and local governments and saving the postal service. As a former Chairman of Fairfax County, I’m especially cognizant of the needs of local governments. Last week I held a call with leaders from local government in the 11th District to hear first-hand about the problems they’re facing. They’re not only facing massive unexpected direct costs from treating coronavirus, but are seeing their own tax bases utterly decimated. Failing to shore up state and local governments finances now will lead to unnecessary budget cuts, job losses, and a deeper recession.
For 12 years, I’ve led the fight for postal reform. Now we’re seeing how important the postal service is to all of our daily lives: to deliver packages, food, medicine, paychecks and stimulus checks, and so much more. The postal service is going to run out of money by the end of June unless Congress intervenes and he has been leading the fight to make sure we don’t lose this Constitutionally mandates service. I even drew Trump’s ire at a daily briefing because of it.
We thought you might enjoy seeing a recent clip of me on MSNBC talking about the need to save the postal service:
Never before have we had a President so fail to meet the moment. He thinks he’s in a reality TV show, doling out protective equipment like immunity idols on Survivor, and bragging about the ratings of his press conferences.
The coronavirus is a global pandemic but the manifest failures to act from this administration for the first months of the outbreak are a governing failure entirely at the feet of Donald Trump. Two years ago, I wrote a letter strenuously objecting to Trump’s decision to disband the Global Health and Security directorate at the NSC. I’ve opposed every budget he’s offered that slashes funding for the Center for Disease Control, and contingency funding for pandemics.
We could have built up supplies of ventilators and N95 masks then, rather than scrambling now. We could have had tens of millions of tests ready, so we aren’t all stuck at home not knowing if we’re sick or not. Instead, Trump played golf and purged the civil service of his imagined enemies. He denied the pending crisis and wasted 70 precious days.
We have to get through this crisis and protect the financial safety and health of the American people. We also owe it to the American people to get a full accounting of how we arrived at this moment, and what Donald Trump could have done to prevent it.
This crisis has made it clearer than ever that we need strong progressive leaders and advocates in Congress who will fight for the lives and safety of all Americans.
As always, if there’s anything I can do for you in these difficult times, please don’t hesitate to ask.
Yours in Service,
Congressman Gerald E. Connolly
Virginia’s 11th District