The following article is a press release from Texas Congressman Mike Conaway.

Yesterday, the President and his Coronavirus Task Force announced their guidelines for Opening Up America Again. This three-phase plan will allow individual states to gradually re-open their economies safely.

The plan outlines certain "gating criteria" that each state must meet in order to move from one phase to the next. The main tenants of the gating criteria is the downward trend of symptoms, cases, and positive tests, as well as assurances that hospitals have the ability to treat all patients as needed, and that the state maintains a robust testing program. Read more about the gating criteria here.

Phases one through three of the plan outline progressive re-opening guidelines for state and local leaders to reference when making the important decision to open certain establishments and industries at the correct time. Read more on Phase One, Two, and Three.

Abbott Begins Process of Reopening Texas

Today, Governor Abbott announced the creation of his Strike Force to Open Texas, a team composed of medical experts and private and public leaders who will advise the Governor on safely and strategically reopening the state of Texas. He also issued two other executive orders today that will allow for the re-opening of some parks and businesses and ease surgery restrictions. These changes will go into effect in the coming week. Finally, he announced that all schools — including public, private, and higher education institutions — will remain closed for the 2019-2020 school year. We will be watching for further guidance from the Governor and his Strike Force to come out soon. You can read more about the Governor's Friday announcements here.

What I am Doing for the 11th District

Constituent meetings look a lot different these days - but connecting with you is still my top priority.

I have stayed busy over the past few weeks conducting countless conference calls with community leaders, oil and gas producers, and bankers from every corner of 11th District while engaging with constituents through multiple Telephone Town Hall and Facebook Live Town Hall events.

To engage with the small businesses who have been among those most gravely hurt by this crisis, I hosted a virtual meeting for over 200 of our small businesses along with the West Texas Small Business Administration (SBA) office. Together, we were able to get down in the weeds and answer questions from small business owners who have been hit hard by COVID-19. If you are a small business owner and need assistance, please do not hesitate to email me.

On the oil and gas side—I am taking bold action and engaging directly with the foreign leaders at the heart of the oil-market collapse, am actively working with the Administration and Congressional leadership to call attention to this crisis, and am in near-constant communication with local oil producers. It imperative that we leave no stone unturned in the fight for our livelihoods.

Democrats Delay PPP Funding

The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), a pivotal component of the CARES Act, has been a critical lifeline for small businesses across the nation as they struggle to keep the lights on. Approximately 88,000 Texas businesses have taken part in this program so far, and we’ve already saved an estimated 15 million jobs nationwide.

However, we learned on Thursday that all funding for PPP has been exhausted, and no new loans will be offered unless Congress steps up and authorizes additional funds. Senate Democrats blocked these efforts to last week, and House Democrats are demanding their wish list of unrelated, ultra-liberal policies be included.

Our small businesses don’t have time for these political games right now- it’s urgent that Congress comes together and pass additional PPP funding without delay.

Coming Up

Next Wednesday, I will be hosting a Facebook Live Town Hall at 5:15pm CST. Please join me to watch and ask questions live on my Facebook page.