Udall Hosts Press Call On COVID-19 Response In New Mexico

 

 

 

Udall discussed his efforts to push the Trump administration to swiftly and effectively implement $2 trillion congressional relief package for New Mexico and Tribes

 

AUDIO: Udall Hosts Press Call on COVID-19 Response in New Mexico

 

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Tom Udall (D-N.M.) hosted a press conference call with New Mexico reporters to discuss efforts to push the Trump administration to efficiently and swiftly implement the $2 trillion congressional COVID-19 relief bill, the CARES Act, that recently passed Congress. Udall highlighted his efforts to get federal dollars on the ground in New Mexico, the CARES Act funding already committed to the state and funding for New Mexico Tribes. He also discussed his continued push for relief measures to benefit New Mexicans and Native communities.

“Congress acted on a bipartisan basis to pass the historic, $2 trillion relief package – known as the CARES Act. Now, the Administration must make sure funding gets out the door and into the pockets of those it’s supposed to help: working Americans, small businesses, the healthcare system and frontline providers, those most in need,” Udall said. “I’m holding the Administration’s feet to the fire. I’m pressing the Administration to get small business dollars on the ground in New Mexico.”

 Udall continued, “Last week, I led a bipartisan, bicameral letter from Congress urging the President to make sure federal agencies honor their trust and treaty responsibilities to tribes – and quickly deploy critical funding. The Navajo Nation, whose reservation is located here in New Mexico and in Arizona and Utah, is getting hit particularly hard. And we are getting distressing updates about outbreaks at San Felipe Pueblo and Zia Pueblo.”

 “[The Trump] Administration has simply not done enough to make sure the nation has the medical resources we need to save lives,” Udall concluded. “New Mexico hospitals need guidance from the Trump Administration on how they can access the $100 billion dollars in the CARES Act so that they can keep their staffs and prepare for a coronavirus surge. We have heard about technical issues with accessing SBA loans, and that there are not enough participating banks. The Trump Administration needs to address these issues – now. My top priority now is to keep New Mexicans healthy and financially secure. We will get through this together.”

 The $2 trillion package includes key provisions to support New Mexico, including: direct payments to individual New Mexicans and a major expansion of unemployment benefits, badly-needed direct relief for small businesses, an emergency infusion of resources into hospitals and to support health care workers, reimbursement for state governments like New Mexico that have stepped up to address the crisis, and critical resources for Tribes and vulnerable Native communities. Udall is now pushing the Trump administration to get these dollars out the door quickly and effectively. Portions of the first wave of grants from the package have recently been released to New Mexico, while the Indian Health Service announced disbursement of $600 million of the over $1 billion in funds Udall helped secure from the CARES Act.

 For a comprehensive list of the actions Udall has taken to improve and expand the federal response to coronavirus, please click HERE. 

Listen to the audio HERE.

Udall’s remarks can be found below:

 

0:00 Thank you for joining us today.

 

0:02 As you know, Congress acted on a bipartisan basis to pass the historic, $2 trillion relief package – known as the CARES Act.

 

0:10 Now, the administration must make sure funding gets out the door and into the pockets of those it’s supposed to help: working Americans, small businesses, the healthcare system and frontline providers, those most in need.

 

0:25 I’m holding the administration’s feet to the fire.

 

0:29 I’m pressing the administration to get small business dollars on the ground in New Mexico.

 

0:35 I understand you all may have questions about SBA capacity. And I’m working to make sure the $10 billion we secured for Tribes is disbursed quickly and in a manner that respects Tribal sovereignty. 

 

0:52 Last week, I led a bipartisan, bicameral letter from Congress urging the President to make sure federal agencies honor their trust and treaty responsibilities to Tribes – and quickly deploy critical funding.

 

1:07 The Navajo Nation, whose reservation is located here in New Mexico and in Arizona and Utah, is getting hit particularly hard. And we are getting distressing updates about outbreaks at San Felipe Pueblo and Zia Pueblo.

 

1:24 We can’t get federal resources to tribes soon enough.

 

1:28 I’ve been in touch with Navajo President Jonathan Nez, Indian Health Services Director Rear Admiral Weahkee, and hospital CEOs across New Mexico to hear about their needs and see how we can assist.

 

1:42 The New Mexico delegation is holding weekly calls with the Governor, who continues to exhibit outstanding leadership.

 

1:51 I remain concerned, however, that the president is not showing the leadership this crisis demands. He continues to send mixed messages on matters of public health. 

 

2:00 And his administration has simply not done enough to make sure the nation has the medical resources we need to save lives.

 

2:11 New Mexico hospitals need guidance from the Trump Administration on how they can access the $100 billion in the CARES Act so that they can keep their staffs and prepare for a coronavirus surge.

 

2:24 We have heard about technical issues with accessing SBA loans, and that there are not enough participating banks. The Trump Administration needs to address these issues – now.

 

2:37 That said, I’m pleased to say we’re having success pushing out COVID-19 funding to our state:

 

  • 2:45 New Mexico communities are set to receive over $16.7 million in emergency housing assistance. This will help keep more people in homes during this public health and economic crisis.
  • 3:00 Local governments and the State of New Mexico will receive more than $133 million in grant funds for urban and rural public transportation systems. 
  • 3:11 And New Mexico Tribes are set to receive approximately $675,000 for public transportation. Transportation systems in Indian County are inadequate. 
  • 3:23 This transportation funding will help families get the care they need and help healthcare workers get to work.
  • 3:30 And the Indian Health Service has released $600 million from the CARES Act for critical health care expenses.

 

3:37 As Congress considers the next phase of our response, I’m going to keep fighting to put New Mexico first.  

 

3:45 I’d like to extend my deepest appreciation to our frontline healthcare workers and other essential workers facing down this crisis—people like grocery store workers, truck drivers, and many other workers in essential services. They are our heroes. 

 

4:05 That’s why I joined with other Senators to unveil a new proposal – to provide premium pay to frontline workers. We need more than just words of gratitude – we need to make sure these heroes get paid what they deserve.

 

4:23 And, I extend my deepest sympathies to all families impacted by this terrible pandemic.

 

4:31 My top priority now is to keep New Mexicans healthy and financially secure. We will get through this together.

 

4:38 Finally, I want to remind everyone to follow the physical distancing and public health guidelines. 

 

4:46 We’re seeing the curve flatten in some areas where these measures have taken hold.

 

5:14 Udall takes questions.

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