CHARLOTTE – U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) held a town hall meeting via telephone March 30, five days after supporting the passage of a $2 trillion stimulus package designed to provide relief to an economy stalled by the spread of coronavirus.
Tillis explained how the legislation directs checks up to $1,200 for individuals with income up to $75,000 and checks up to $2,400 for married couples with income up to $150,000. Families get an additional $500 per child.
Small businesses are eligible for $350 billion in federally guaranteed loans that provide eight weeks of cash flow assistance.
During his town hall, Tillis answered questions related to the potential of a sagging economy and relief for small businesses during his town hall. Questions and answers have been edited for space and clarity.
Constituent: Some economists have said we may need twice the stimulus that Congress recently passed. Is this something you’re looking at if this continues for months?
Tillis: I hope and pray that it doesn’t continue for months.
What we’re going to have to do is look at the best data after we have gotten through this first crunch. Two trillion dollars is the most massive economic stabilization package that’s ever been passed in the history of our nation.
We’re hopeful that if the combination of social distancing, everybody pulling together and doing their part to limit the spread, that this will provide (inaudible).
But if the facts change, then what we’ll have to do in Congress, we have to have everything on the table to help our economy recover and most importantly, ensure the fiscal health of everybody.
I think that right now we don’t want to look ahead to the next one. We have people already following on a phase four of the bill.
There may very well be something we may need to pass to better define the measures in this current package, but I would think that we’d have to wait and see how this is going to affect.
It’s only been signed into law. The resources will begin moving this week. The resources to individuals will start moving in a few weeks.
I think we really have to see how the economy and how society reacts to that while we’re watching the numbers on the spread of the disease and our efforts on containment. That’s the most important thing we can do now.
Someone calling for it immediately outside of trying to fix or refine the underlying bills that we passed I think at this point would be premature.
Constituent: Where can we get information for small businesses looking to get grants for payroll?
Tillis: The first shot should be my website. Go to www.tillis.senate.gov. We just posted a link that will take you to the information.
In a nutshell, the way it’s going to work is if you’re a small business and you’d like to keep your employees on the payroll, if you get this loan, which – at this point, we’re trying to not only go to what we would normally do as a Small Business Administration-approved lenders but we’re really opening this up to a broad base of lenders.
And if you were to get a loan, if you just needed a low-interest loan to help you make cash flow work for the next month or so, then that would be a low-interest loan that would have a payment period that you would work out with your lender.
If on the other hand, you use a portion of it or all of it for paying your employees, then that is a forgivable loan. You won’t have to pay that back.
That information has been summarized on my website. We’ll continue to update that because the way things work is we pass a law, then the administration has the right by law to write certain laws and guidance to push it out.
As soon as we get more information on exactly which lenders are online, right now it would best to check with a local banker if you have a banking relationship and ask them what they’ve heard.
I’ve got a call that we’re scheduling with the bankers across North Carolina this week to answer their questions so they can mobilize. That should be occurring over the next week or so.
Constituent: I’m self-employed. I don’t have any income coming in, yet I have to pay rent. I’m asking the landlord to give us a break for two months so that we can get started back again. Is there anything you can do?
Tillis: We are working on that. We have to look at everybody in the chain.
Number one, you should be receiving that assistance to help you just to make ends meet. But if you’re not making income, I know that’s probably not going to erase all of your income deficiencies.
We are encouraging banks and landlords to look at ways to where they can more or less shift things to the right a month or two.
We also have to be mindful of the fact that the landlords themselves may be cash-strapped, because they may not be a full-time landlord or they may not have a portfolio to where they can pay all their bills.
So part of what we have to do is seek help from the landlords to help individuals like you and then we have to seek help from the banks to help landlords who may not be able to have the cash flow to bridge the gap.
That’s what we’re working on and that’s why we’re having the calls across the state with business organizations now that we passed the stabilization bill so that we can really get everybody in the chain – if they have the resources, if they don’t have the resources and who further in the chain may be able to help them out with forbearances on loans, delayed rent payment and those sorts of things.
Your situation is not unique. There are tens of thousands of people in North Carolina that we know are experiencing the same thing as you and that’s why we’re working on it.