Kentucky Congressman James Comer held a town hall conference call Thursday to share information on his and other congressional efforts to ease economic strains related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Comer, the Republican representative from the First Congressional District, said he is planning to speak on the flood of the House of Representatives today when it will vote on the $2.2 trillion relief package passed by the U.S. Senate Wednesday.
He and fellow Republican lawmakers in the House are examining the 880-page bill — the largest economic relief effort in U.S. history — to make sure it has no “unintended consequences.”
It is designed to deliver help to businesses, workers and health care systems rocked by the national and international coronavirus outbreak. The government reported Thursday 3.3 new weekly unemployment claims, which is four times the previous record, according to the Associated Press.
In the hour-long call from Washington, which included questions from constituents, Comer addressed the stimulus package’s one-time direct payments to Americans. Those amounts are $1,200 per adult making up to $75,000 a year and $2,400 for a married couple making up to $150,000, with $500 per child.
He said the Internal Revenue Service and U.S. Treasury Department would handle disbursements and that constituents do not have to contact the agencies to get benefits. The IRS and Treasury would utilize 2019 tax return information for those who have already filed to calculate funding. For those who haven’t filed yet, based on the new July 15 tax deadline, 2018 tax information would be used.
The method of disbursement would se the same for how people have previously received tax refunds, such as direct bank deposit or mailed checks. With such, Comer cautioned constituents about scammers.
“Do not give out personal information or Social Security number,” he said.
Comer said he has spoken with administrators at the First District’s 30 hospitals regarding the coronavirus pandemic and their concerns center on personal protective equipment (PPE) for health care personnel. Comer said he has been contacting businesses, which can make needed equipment, such as masks, face guards and surgical caps, or which have surplus items.
He added that in contacting rural hospitals, they have been hit more so by the required stoppage of elective surgeries.
Comer also highlighted President Donald Trump’s signing into law of the reauthorization of the Supporting Older Americans Act, of which Comer was the lead Republican sponsor.
The law promotes seniors’ ability to live independently in their homes by supplying Area Agencies on Aging additional resources to effectively serve elderly populations. It also reauthorizes programs to deliver meals at senior centers, schools and churches, addresses prevention of abuse and exploitation of seniors, provides family caregiver support systems, and offers community service employment opportunities.
It also eliminates the arbitrary cap on the percentage of funding that Area Development Districts, such as the Purchase Area Development District (which serves as the Area Agency on Aging), can use to provide services to older caregivers raising younger relatives.
Also on the call was Dr. Kyle Turnbo, who answered questions related to the coronavirus. Dr. Turnbo noted that while the Purchase region currently has a few cases — notably two cases in McCracken County, two in Calloway County, as of Thursday afternoon — those local numbers may jump.
While answering questions, both Turnbo and Comer cautioned against misinformation that is floated around social media sites like Facebook.