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Here is the latest update Sunday from Congressman David Rouzer, who represents North Carolina’s 7th District, which includes a portion of Bladen County:

The House of Representatives will vote this week on a bipartisan bill that makes several needed improvements to the Paycheck Protection Program. The bill is the result of feedback members of Congress have heard about the program from restaurant owners in particular struggling to stay afloat and put their PPP loans to use within the confines set by Treasury and the SBA. Specifically, at this point in time the bill includes provisions that:

** Allow loan forgiveness for expenses beyond the 8-week covered period. This is important for businesses that have been prohibited from opening their doors, and gives them the flexibility to spread the loan funds over a longer period of time and still get it forgiven.

** Eliminate restrictions limiting non-payroll expenses to 25% of the loan value. This gives employers more flexibility to cover their fixed costs – mortgage, rent, utilities, etc. – in order to survive.

** Eliminate restrictions that limit loan terms to two years. This will give small businesses more time to pay back loan funds that weren’t forgiven under the terms of the program.

** Extend the rehiring deadline to reflect enhanced Unemployment Insurance. This will ensure the deadline to rehire employees laid off before a firm received its PPP loan is in alignment with the expiration of enhanced Unemployment Insurance, which has made it much more difficult to hire back employees.

** Ensure businesses that take PPP loans can also access payroll tax deferment. Businesses need access to both PPP and payroll tax deferment in order to survive the crisis. Under language in this bill using both will no longer be considered “double dipping”.

** Some of these provisions above are still being negotiated and may change before the vote.

An additional note: this week will be the first time House Democrats utilize their unconstitutional “proxy voting” scheme, which allows them to pass legislation even if most of their members never step foot on the House floor. As of this morning, more than 60 House Democrats have turned over their voting cards to Nancy Pelosi’s leadership team instead of traveling to Washington to do their jobs in person.

** Leader McCarthy, my Republican colleagues and I have filed suit challenging this scheme.

Governor Roy Cooper announced Tuesday that $85.4 million in federal CARES Act funding approved by Congress will be disbursed to North Carolina counties this week to help them cover expenses and revenue shortfalls stemming from the COVID-19 outbreak. More information from the Governor’s office here.

Wayne UNC Health Care will host a Community Blood Drive in partnership with Wayne County, The Blood Connection (TBC) and The Maxwell Center on Friday, June 5 at the Maxwell Center, 3114 Wayne Memorial Drive in Goldsboro. The drive, which will be held from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., will offer free COVID-19 antibody testing for all donors. More information available here.

President Trump signed a proclamation on May 24 suspending the entry into the U.S. of any foreign nationals who were present in Brazil during the 14-day period preceding their entry or attempted entry into the United States. Brazil will be added to a list of travel-restricted countries currently including Iran, China, and most European countries, which have all been highly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

For today’s good news story, I’m highlighting the Cape Fear Distillery in Elizabethtown, which has been making hand sanitizer for delivery to some of the nation’s hardest-hit COVID-19 hotspots like Detroit. It’s just one of the ways North Carolina businesses have adapted quickly to the needs of the nation to combat the virus.

As always, stay tuned to Coronavirus.gov and the NC Department of Health and Human Services’ website for the latest on the outbreak. And please feel free to send good news stories our way to highlight in this newsletter by replying to this e-mail.

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