House set to pass $484 billion interim relief bill a week after Paycheck Protection Program runs dry
Many representatives are heading back to Washington, D.C., to vote on a $484 billion interim coronavirus relief bill after the Senate passed the legislation late Tuesday to fund small businesses, hospitals and testing.
For weeks, Democrats and Republicans have been in a stalemate over how much funding to provide and where it should go.
On April 9, Senator Mitch McConnell called for a unanimous vote to pass $250 billion in additional funding to the Paycheck Protection Program, urging Senate Democrats to “not block emergency aid you do not oppose just because you want something more.”
“There is only one part of the CARES Act that is already at risk of exhausting it’s funding right now,” said McConnell.
Just as the Senate majority leader feared, that’s exactly what happened. Amidst the Democrats’ demands for further negotiations, the Paycheck Protection Program stopped accepting applications on April 16.
“America’s small businesses are on the brink, trying desperately to keep their doors open and support their employees,” said Brad Close, president of the National Federation of Independent Business. “We’ve been hearing from our members, every day, worried the $349 billion lending program would run dry before help gets to them. Today, their worries became a reality.”
If passed in the House, the $484 billion interim coronavirus funding bill will provide $310 billion to the Paycheck Protection program, with $60 billion set aside for small businesses in dire need of loans. The small business disaster fund will receive $60 billion, including $10,000 in emergency grants and loans. Hospitals will receive $75 billion, and $25 billion will fund increased testing and contact tracing.
“I am just sorry that it took my colleagues in Democratic leadership 12 days to accept the inevitable,” McConnell said on Tuesday. “The American people are counting on Congress to put aside reflexive partisanship and work across the aisle to help our nation through this pandemic.”
Naturally, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who dragged out negotiations until early Tuesday, blamed Republicans and the president for the delay in funding.
“There’s a boy scout saying ‘proper preparedness prevents poor performance.’” Pelosi said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe”. “Well, that was exactly why the President gets an ‘F.’… Delay, whatever, delay, denial, death, instead we’d like to see him insist on the truth and we must insist on the truth with him.”
The new legislation is expected to pass in the House on Thursday. According to Chuck Schumer, Democrats are already planning the next relief bill.
“There will be a big, broad, bold Covid 4… The Speaker and I will begin rolling up our sleeves and begin working… very soon, and very quickly,” Schumer said.
PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images