Sullivan Updates Alaskans on Congressional Actions related to COVID-19 Pandemic
WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) today issued a message to Alaskans about the challenging and unprecedented time the country and the state are in as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Sullivan gave an update on what he’s working on in D.C., to help Alaskans through the physical and economic challenges they are currently facing and the challenges ahead.
Hello to my fellow Alaskans.
First, I want to say that I understand what a challenging and unprecedented time it is for all Alaskans—really, all Americans. And I want you to know that we are working around the clock to help our state and our country deal with the these unprecedented challenges surrounding the coronavirus pandemic that came from China.
Before I give you an update on what we’re doing here in D.C., I want to send a special message to our young Alaskans who we all love—who are the future of this great state. This is to our young Alaskans: We know that this virus might not dangerously impact your health, but the nature of this virus is that someone can be infected without symptoms and still unknowingly spread it to others. To the young people in Alaska, this could include your parents, grandparents and friends. That is why the CDC yesterday called on all Americans to try to avoid crowds of 10 or more, no matter your age. Please, everybody, you need to follow their guidelines.
We all have a role to play in this. Everybody does. Young Alaskans have an opportunity to really step up here and help their state and their country. I am very confident, because I know so many of them, that our young generation will rise to this challenge. No doubt about it.
So let me quickly update you and what we’re doing in D.C., working very closely with our local, tribal, and the state government, to help Alaskans and Americans get through this very challenging time. We are battling this pandemic on many fronts, including the physical health of Alaskans, the well-being of our families and workers, the vitality of different sectors of our economy, and the fiscal stability of the state of Alaska.
We’re working on a comprehensive package in the Senate, a bipartisan package, to battle this pandemic, which we’re putting into three different phases.
You might have heard that the we’ve already passed an $8.3 billion emergency funding package that the President signed two weeks ago to address the health and readiness aspects of the coronavirus. These funds are going toward patient monitoring, lab testing, acquiring test kits, securing protective equipment for first responders and health care workers, conducting vital research, and continuing efforts to quickly develop a vaccine.
Alaska has already received millions of dollars in this package to be allocated to state, local and tribal health providers, including our many community health centers in our state.
The second phase of this larger comprehensive plan is to ensure that Americans don’t have any barriers, including financial barriers, to get the medical help they need, providing financial assistance for hardworking Americans who are ill or quarantined, or who are caring for others who have been impacted by the coronavirus.
We’re working on the details right now of that legislation. I’m pushing hard to make sure that working Alaskans get money in their pockets as soon as possible, that we’re helping parents who have to stay home with their kids, and Alaska small businesses that I know are severely impacted right now to help them stay afloat. We should be voting on this legislation in the next day or so. I will keep you posted.
The third phase is a more comprehensive package focusing on families, communities and businesses being impacted by this crisis. We have had meetings already, putting together this package this week. We’re hopeful as well. For example, I and some of my colleagues have been pressing in meetings today, including with the secretary of the treasury, for some sort of PFD-like payment to hard-working Alaskans to help get them through challenging times.
I’m also focused on the fundamentals of Alaska’s economy. As all Alaskans know, the energy sector is a critical component of our economy and it’s critical that we do all that we can to help shore up and stabilize that market.
I’ve been working on that from two different angles. First, you may have seen, on Friday, President Trump announced that the Department of Energy was going to buy millions of barrels of oil to fill up what’s called the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, essentially an emergency fuel storage for America.
I was able to get very recently a commitment from the Secretary of Energy that only American-produced oil, Alaskan oil, should be used to fill up that reserve. I believe that’s going to happen, hopefully soon.
I’m also leading the charge in pressing Saudi Arabia to stop undermining the global energy market. You may have seen the very dramatic drops in the price of oil in the last two weeks. That has been Saudi Arabia’s game of chicken, essentially, with Russia. This does not help the global economy. This does not help the Alaska economy. It does not help our fiscal future. I am leading a meeting tomorrow with ambassador of Saudi Arabia to the United States with several senators, and we are going to make sure she, and the crown prince who she works for, know that we are not happy about their actions.
All of these things are in the works, and we want to make sure that we get it right and we get the help that’s needed to all Alaskans. I am talking with our state officials every day, and many other leaders across our state to get their input, to hear what they’re saying. Of course, we welcome all of your input.
Working together, we can get through this challenge. We will. We’ve faced some enormous challenges in Alaska. Earthquakes, floods, wildfires, volcanos. The price of oil has dropped before. The stock market has crashed before.
I know that right now, throughout our state, neighbors are reaching out to help neighbors. I know that right now throughout our state, the best sprit of Alaska is coming forth, to help the country we love and the state we love and call home.
I know that many of us, including my staff, have been told by the health experts to telework, and we thank all of them for continuing to work where they can and how they can. Not in their offices.
But I want to say a special thank you [for the] important, really critical work that Alaskans provide for our state, [those] who really drive our state economy, who don’t have that option of teleworking: Our first responders, the men and women who work at our ports, the people who keep our communities running, pharmacies, grocery stores, our fishermen, our oil and gas workers, our truck drivers, our medical professionals, those who care for the sick and the elderly, the men and women of the military. All of you, we want to thank you. The list goes on and on. But we really want to thank you for all you’re doing and continuing to do. From the bottom of my heart, I thank you.
There may be more challenges awaiting us, for Alaska and for America. But working together—Alaskans helping Alaskans—we’ve come through challenges before—we’ve come through stronger—and we’ll come through this challenge stronger.
We are the most resilient people on the planet.
We will get through this, Alaska. We will get through it stronger and more resilient.
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