Pike County’s representatives in Washington joined the overwhelming and bipartisan majorities in Washington by voting in favor of a $2 trillion dollar effort to hedge against the economic consequences of COVID-19.

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“This coronavirus pandemic has already cost hundreds of Americans their lives, and millions more their livelihoods. In uncertain times, this legislation offers hope, helping American workers put food on the table and helping American businesses keep their lights on and their employees on the payroll,” U.S. Rep. Sam Graves, who represents Pike County in the House, said about the passage of the CARE Act.

In a message to constituents sent after the passage of the bill, Graves said he felt the bill was not perfect, included necessary components and left work undone in preparing rural areas to handle the crisis.

“This is a difficult time for America. We still have a lot more work to do, to protect our rural communities and strengthen our rural hospitals. By putting politics aside and working together, we will get through this. I’m confident that we will emerge from this a stronger, more resilient America,” Graves added.

Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley was an early proponent of the idea of direct payments as a way of helping people weather COVID-19’s interruption of the economy.

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“Struggling families need help, and they don’t have time to sort through confusing rules and mandates about who’s paying for what and how. They’re not sure what’s going to happen to mom’s or dad’s workplace during this crisis, or if their work can afford to keep everyone on payroll. Let’s not overthink this. These families need relief — now — to pay bills that are coming due, make those emergency grocery runs, and get ready for potential medical bills. Let’s get it to them,” Hawley said.

Hawley also objected to a proposal by Republican leadership that would have given less aid to poorer families. Hawley has also issued a call for an investigation of what he characterized as a “cover-up” of the early emergence of the disease by the Chinese government.

“Since day one, the Chinese Communist Party intentionally lied to the world about the origin of this pandemic. The CCP was aware of the reality of the virus as early as December but ordered laboratories to destroy samples and forced doctors to keep silent. It is time for an international investigation into the role their cover-up played in the spread of this devastating pandemic. The CCP must be held to account for what the world is now suffering,” Hawley said.

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Sen. Roy Blunt noted that the ultimate version of the bill extended funding for Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics, community-based mental health providers created by a bill introduced by Blunt in 2014. Missouri was one of eight state where the clinics were established as a pilot program.

“The coronavirus has disrupted Americans’ lives in ways we’ve never seen before. Making sure we have the resources in place to not just respond to the physical health challenges but also the mental and behavioral health challenges is absolutely critical,” said Blunt. “Every day, these centers are providing affordable, around-the-clock services to help people struggling with a mental health or addiction issue. CCBHCs have been successful in reducing hospitalizations and emergency room visits, and using telehealth to treat patients, all of which will help providers focus in-demand resources on coronavirus response efforts. This program is working, and I’m glad it will continue to be available for current patients and anyone who needs help coping with the impact of this pandemic.”

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