President Donald Trump on Friday signed a $484 billion package to aid small businesses, hospitals, and testing for the coronavirus.
The relief package destined to ease the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic will provide $310 billion back into the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), $120 billion for the smallest of businesses, $75 billion more to hospitals, and $25 billion for coronavirus testing.
The House of Representatives approved the relief package 388 to five Thursday night.
A huge amount of the money, $310 billion, is set to replenish the Paycheck Protection Program, which ran out of cash last week.
The program, which was part of the $2 trillion CARES Act, provides money for banks to loan out to small businesses in order to pay their workers.
Also part of the bill is $75 billion for hospitals, which includes money for personal protective equipment, and another $25 billion will be directed to enhance coronavirus testing.
Trump thanked Congress for “answering my call” to provide the critical assistance and said it was “a tremendous victory.”
There has been criticism, from both sides of the aisle, that places like big chain restaurants were able to secure loans while smaller shops came away empty.
“These dollars must actually make it to those who need it,” Democratic Rep. Madeleine Dean, of Pennsylvania’s 4th District, said on the House floor. “Small family businesses, minority- and women-owned businesses, so many I talked to over these last few weeks.”
“If the Treasury Department does not establish guardrails to differentiate between well-capitalized brokerage firms and under-capitalized mom-and-pop shops, we will not be helping the people that need us the most right now,” echoed Pennsylvania Republican Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick of the 1st District.
“This is not the time to be attacking each other. We must get through this crisis together,” he added. “We must have each other’s backs.”
Members of both parties are considering the passing of another package in the short term. There is speculation that the Payroll Protection Program will exhaust the new $250 billion almost immediately. Launched just weeks ago, the program quickly reached its lending limit after approving nearly 1.7 million loans.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and allies said the next measure will distribute more relief to individuals, extend more jobless benefits into the fall, provide another round of direct payments to most people and help those who are laid off afford health insurance through the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA).