Lending a Hand
Hello Folks –
I hope you are all keeping safe, staying well, and managing these challenging times.
As your representative, hearing from you is critical to my job. Since this public health crisis began, I’ve been listening directly to folks in every corner of our region about how COVID-19 and efforts to contain its spread are impacting them – and to learn more about what resources are needed from the federal government.
In response, I’ve worked with my colleagues in Congress to pass three emergency response bills that have now been signed into law by the President. These new bills will provide bold and urgent action to protect the health, safety, and economic well-being of the American people – including our workers and families.
I know that in this news cycle, it can sometimes feel hard to keep up with the latest information – and to find quick and straightforward resources about how you can get help. In response, I launched a resource webpage at kilmer.house.gov/coronavirus and developed five new resource guides to give you more information about the resources Congress is providing to address Washington state’s growing economic challenges, provide details about opportunities to access economic relief, and answer a number of questions I’m hearing. You can access them here:
- Small Business Resource Guide
- Health Care Resource Guide
- Worker Assistance & Recently Unemployed Resource Guide
- Parent & Student Resource Guide
- Veterans Resource Guide
In addition to launching this resource page, this past week, I held two interactive Q&A sessions on Facebook to give folks an opportunity to ask questions directly to me. On Thursday, I was joined by the Regional Administrator and District Director of the U.S. Small Business Administration to discuss new resources available to small businesses and on Friday, I spoke with folks whose employment situation has been affected by COVID-19 regarding how they can get help.
On Tuesday at 3:30pm, I’ll be hosting another Q&A session to answer questions from seniors in our region - like whether COVID-19 might affect important programs like Medicare and Social Security, or if they’re eligible for a rebate from the federal government. Tune in here.
Follow along for more at Facebook.com/Derek.Kilmer.
When folks have an issue with a federal agency, my dedicated and experienced casework team is here to help. From ensuring federal agencies respond promptly to constituent requests, to holding agencies accountable when folks have not received the benefits that they have earned, to other matters, our team is focused making sure government works for you.
They’re also doing that critical work right now, as we work to address the many challenges that COVID-19 is presenting to folks from across the region.
A great example of that unique work related to COVID-19 is the effort by my team to help fellow Washingtonians return home from overseas. With thousands of commercial flights cancelled, borders closed, and visa processing limited, many Americans have found it difficult to return home. That’s where our team has been able to step-in.
From North Macedonia to South Africa, to Bosnia, to India, we’ve worked with over 80 people from our region who have had difficulty returning home. That includes communicating directly with the U.S. State Department and calling, e-mailing, and using WhatsApp with constituents to provide constant updates and help ensure folks have the information and resources they need to get back home.
In South America, for example, there’s been extremely limited international travel allowed. In Peru, our team helped a family from Tacoma ensure their son could get on a plane chartered by the U.S. government to get back home urgently to his family. We also helped an individual from Sequim, who was in a rural town nearly eight hours away from Lima, get back to the capital amid a curfew order and are working to get him back to the States. And in Colombia, we worked to help secure a Peace Corps charter flight for a group of nearly 50 folks who had been volunteering and working with local communities to build education and economic development capacity.
It’s complicated work – but my team and I are committed to doing our part to help as many folks get home as possible.
Over the years, my office has worked with thousands of people throughout our region and helped to resolve a range of problems. While we cannot guarantee a favorable outcome in every case (and we are only able to take on cases that fall within the scope of a federal agency), we will always do our best to help you receive a fair and timely response to your problem. You can reach out to our team for help here.
Calling for Support for Our Health Care System
Our health care system needs help. On Friday, Senator Murray and I led the Washington delegation in urging the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to move swiftly to implement the funds provided by Congress in Public Health and Social Services Emergency Funding.
As the first state to see COVID-19 cases and deaths, Washington state hospitals and providers have been working to slow the spread of the virus and ensure sufficient hospital capacity for patient treatment. And they’ve been doing that work longer than any other state. Even with proactive steps from the state government to stem the spread of the virus, our health care providers have been under an immense amount of strain as the number of people requiring care increases.
In order to ensure that federal funding from the CARES Act quickly and efficiently assists providers in coping with this crisis, we sent a bipartisan letter to urge HHS to issue clear guidance for providers to apply for funding, distribute funding to providers rapidly, and prioritize funding for providers that are dealing with a high volume of cases and losing revenue (like those here in Washington).
I know there’s more work to do – and I’ll continue to fight for our communities. As this situation evolves, I encourage you to sign-up for my newsletter, continue to visit Kilmer.House.Gov for the latest information, or reach out to my team and me in Tacoma at 253-272-3515 if we can lend a hand.
In the days ahead, please continue to take care of yourselves – and each other.
As always, I’m honored to represent you.
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