Senate approves $ 483 billion virus aid deal and sends it to the House – NBC10 Philadelphia
A $ 483 billion coronavirus aid package passed through the Senate on Tuesday after Congress and the White House reached a deal to replenish a payroll fund for small businesses and provided new funds for hospitals and hospitals. tests.
The passage was swift and unanimous, despite opposition from conservative Republicans. President Donald Trump tweeted his support, pledging to sign it into law. He now goes to the House, with votes set for Thursday.
“I urge the House to pass the bill,” Trump said in the White House.
After nearly two weeks of negotiations and deadlock, Congress and the White House reached an agreement on Tuesday on the nearly $ 500 billion package – the fourth as Washington struggles to respond to the health crisis and economic.
“The Senate continues to stand by the side of the American people,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Told a nearly empty room.
Senatorial Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said the bill was made “better and broader” after Democrats forced the inclusion of money for hospitals and tests.
A copy of the measure was provided to The Associated Press by a GOP aide.
The bulk of the funding, $ 331 billion, would go to boost a small business payday loan program that ran out of money last week. An additional $ 75 billion would be given to hospitals and $ 25 billion would be spent to boost testing for the virus, a key step in building the confidence needed to reopen state economies.
However, the package lacked additional funding for state and local governments that were scrutinizing budget holes and desperately seeking to avoid the leaves and layoffs of workers necessary for cities to function.
Trump has said he is willing to include tax relief for state and local governments – which Democrats wanted for the current bill – as well as infrastructure projects in a subsequent virus assistance package.
Not all Republicans back Trump on the deal.
Two conservative Republicans, Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, and Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., Voiced their opposition in Tuesday’s sitting but did not interrupt the passage.
Lee said it was “unacceptable” that the entire Senate was not present and not voting in the pro forma session as Congress closed its doors during the virus outbreak.
Paul said no amount of federal funding can save a closed economy. “Deaths from infectious diseases will continue, but we cannot continue to quarantine indefinitely,” said Paul, who tested positive for the virus last month but has since recovered.
The House is summoned to Washington for a vote on Thursday, said Representative Steny Hoyer, House Majority Leader.
Hoyer, D-Md., Said the House will also vote on a proposal to allow proxy voting on future business during the pandemic, a first for Congress, which has required face-to-face business primarily since its founding.
“The House must show the American people that we continue to work hard on their behalf,” Hoyer wrote to his colleagues.
But the historic rule change has met with objections from conservative Republicans.
“I don’t support him at all,” said Rep. Clay Higgins, R-La., One of the few Republicans who showed up at Tuesday’s pro forma session to protest proxy votes. “Congress should be in session.”
Raising concerns, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., Wrote to Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Seeking more information on plans to reopen the House.
The emerging virus aid program – originally conceived by Republicans as a $ 250 billion stopgap to replenish wage subsidies for small businesses – has so far become the second largest of four response bills to coronaviruses.
Democratic demands have inflated the measure, although Republicans support the additions for hospitals and testing.
The $ 310 billion currently allocated to the paycheck protection program includes about $ 60 billion earmarked – and split evenly among – small banks and community lenders looking to focus on under-banked neighborhoods and rural areas. . Democrats pointed to the number of smaller, minority-owned stores that are not receiving aid.
An additional $ 60 billion would be available for a small business loans and grants program offered through a Small Business Disaster Assistance Program, including $ 10 billion in direct grants.
The bill provides $ 25 billion for increased testing efforts, including at least $ 11 billion for state and tribal governments to detect and track new infections. The rest will help fund federal research into new coronavirus testing options.
Currently, the United States has tested around 4 million people for the virus, or just over 1% of its population, according to the Covid Tracking Project website.
While the White House says the United States has enough tests to start relaxing social distancing measures, most experts say the capacity needs to be tripled or even more.
Despite another big package from Congress, all parties say more help is probably needed.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin outlined infrastructure and broadband spending for the next bill. And there is pressure to help cities of less than 500,000 inhabitants that were excluded from the massive $ 2,000 billion relief bill that was passed last month.
Schumer said on Monday he had spoken to Federal Reserve Board Chairman Jerome Powell and that Powell said the Fed was working to open the Main Street loan program to nonprofits and to municipal governments.
The government’s paycheck protection program has been overwhelmed by businesses applying for loans and hit its credit limit last Thursday after approving nearly 1.7 million loans. This left thousands of small businesses in limbo as they sought help.
Controversies surrounded the program, with many companies complaining that banks favored customers they already do business with. Some companies that have not suffered much from the pandemic have also received loans, as have a number of publicly traded companies.
Associated Press editors Matthew Perrone, Mary Clare Jalonick, and Matthew Daly contributed to this report.