Update From Senator Dan Sullivan - P.O.W. Report

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Update From Senator Dan Sullivan

Dear Alaskan,
We are all facing a challenging and unprecedented time with the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. I want you to know that my team and I are working around the clock, in close coordination with federal, state, local and tribal officials, to provide the assistance needed to contain and treat this virus, as well as provide support to working Alaskans and small businesses negatively impacted by the pandemic.
On that note, below are five updates for your Friday about the legislative work we've undertaken in recent days, as well as recommendations for individual Alaskans to protect themselves and plan for disruptions to day-to-day life. 
Importantly, for resources and reputable information about the COVID-19 pandemic, I would direct you to a resource page on my website, which has a directory to federal and state agency sites as well as regular updates, and to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC)'s dedicated coronavirus page
Stay safe, and please reach out if we can be of any assistance to you.

Senator Dan Sullivan


Senate Passes "Phase II" Economic Stimulus Package for COVID-19 Outbreak 
Earlier this week, the Senate overwhelmingly passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. While far from perfect, the bipartisan bill will ensure that all Americans have access to testing, while also providing a stronger temporary social safety net for those who are sick or caring for ill loved ones. The package comes about two weeks after we passed an initial $8.3 billion "Phase I" emergency funding bill to bolster response and prevention efforts, including deploying resources for patient monitoring; lab testing; acquisition of test kits; securing protective equipment; and conducting research, development, and acquisition of a vaccine. Here's a video message I released about the Phase II bill and our plans to quickly move to a larger "Phase III" economic relief package. We're working on the bill right now with a particular focus on our struggling workers and small businesses.

White House "15 Days to Slow the Spread" Initiative
On Monday, the White House Coronavirus Task Force and the CDC released important new guidelines for each and every American to help protect one another and prevent the spread of the coronavirus. We are now in "Day 5" of this initiative, and unfortunately we've seen some Americans disregarding these recommendations. Please do not be among them. Even if you are healthy or at low risk, we all have a role to play in ensuring our health care system is not overwhelmed, and ensuring the virus is not able to reach our elders or those with underlying medical conditions. Please, take these recommendations to heart. What we choose to do now will very likely save lives in the days and weeks ahead. 

International Travel Restrictions
I’ve heard from a number of Alaskans inquiring on behalf of family members who are currently overseas or out of state working to get back to Alaska. The U.S. State Department yesterday issued a Level 4 alertadvising Americans not to travel internationally for the foreseeable future, while also urging Americans traveling abroad to return home as soon as possible. Additionally, the President announced the closure of the U.S.-Canada and the U.S.-Mexico borders for non-essential travel. The Department of Homeland Security has information about the enhanced screening procedures that returning individuals can expect to undergo. The State Department has country-specific information on local quarantine and health regulations, travel restrictions, and embassy contacts for Americans overseas. If you have questions about international or cross-border travel for yourself or a family member, do not hesitate to reach out to my team in Anchorage at 907.271.5915.

Taxpayers Able to Defer Filing & Payment to July 15
The U.S. Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service announced today that taxpayers will have another three months to file their taxes. The guidance enables individual and other non-corporate tax filers to defer up to $1 million of federal income tax to July 15 without facing penalties or interest. I applaud the federal government for making this sensible accommodation that will relieve a stressor from thousands of Alaskans who are embroiled in this crisis. I encourage those Alaskans who are able, to still file their taxes and do so expeditiously to receive their refund sooner, if eligible, and be prepared for the difficult times we are facing. If you have any questions about this new IRS guidance, please reach out to my team at 907.271.5915. 


Shoring up Alaska's Struggling Energy Sector
As we see additional cases of the coronavirus detected in Alaska, my first priority is the physical health and well-being of Alaskans. I’m also focused on Alaska’s economy. As Alaskans know, the energy sector is critical, supporting tens of thousands of jobs in Alaska and the lion’s share of our state general fund that supports much of the state’s social safety net. The oil market has been hit hard, both by the instability from the pandemic as well as a recent price war between Russia and Saudi Arabia. This week, I took two actions to shore up our domestic energy sector and protect Alaska. I sent a letter with several of my Senate colleagues to Saudi Crown Prince bin Salman urging the Kingdom to halt its recent efforts to boost production and lower oil prices, and instead to help calm the economic anxiety taking place. The letter was reinforced with a meeting that I convened with the Saudi ambassador to the United States later in the week. Additionally, I’ve called on the U.S. Department of Energy to only use domestically-produced oil, including oil from Alaska, to fill the nation’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve. Yesterday, I spoke with Stuart Varney on Fox Business about these efforts to help ensure American and Alaskan energy are able weather these challenges:

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