MARTINSBURG — U.S. Congressman Alex Mooney (WV-02) hosted a conference call with pastors across West Virginia’s Second Congressional District to discuss access to relief funds for churches and religious organizations provided through the Coronavirus Aid Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Due to the coronavirus, most church services are closed, but churches are still counted on to provide assistance to West Virginians in need.
U.S. Congressman Mike Johnson (LA-04), who has been a leader nationally in ensuring CARES Act funds are available to churches, joined Congressman Mooney on the call.
“I sent a letter to the Administrator of the Small Business Administration specifically asking that nonprofits and religiously affiliated organizations benefit from the Paycheck Protection Program, provided under the CARES Act. I am very pleased to report the Trump Administration has issued new regulations allowing faith-based organizations to take full advantage of the loan program which allows small businesses to obtain forgivable loans to cover payroll costs and other expenses like rent and utility,” said Congressman Mooney.
The Small Business Administration (SBA) Interim Final Rule on the Paycheck Protection Program addresses eligibility concerns for religiously affiliated organizations: “All loans guaranteed by the SBA pursuant to the CARES Act will be made consistent with constitutional, statutory, and regulatory protections for religious liberty, including the First Amendment to the Constitution, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and SBA regulations.”
Questions on the teleconference call included how to contact the SBA, what grants and/or programs are available for ministries and organizations to assist with food and meals for citizens, what incentives are available for banks and lending institutions to offer these loans, and if the program covers payroll-related expenses other than direct payments.
“While it has been a time of uncertainty, the pandemic has proven the strength of our country, the power of prayer, the compassion of our people and the ability of churches to help our communities in this time of need,” said Congressman Mooney.
For updated COVID-19 resources and information for West Virginia, please visit mooney.house.gov/COVID-19.