On Friday, President Donald Trump signed a $484 billion coronavirus relief bill that added $310 billion to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) for small businesses and provided more funds for hospitals, disaster loans, and testing, The Hill reported.
$60 billion of the PPP funding is reserved for community banks and small lenders, and the bill provides $75 billion for hospitals, $60 billion for disaster and emergency loans, and $25 billion for coronavirus testing.
The legislation was held up for more than a week by Democrats, who wanted to add funding for cash-strapped states among other priorities. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin negotiated with Democrats on behalf of Trump and the Republicans.
The package was finally passed by a unanimous voice vote by the Senate on Tuesday and by a floor vote in the House on Thursday. Fox News reported that many House members wore masks during debate on the bill as well as while voting on the legislation after Republicans demanded a floor vote rather than a voice vote.
Trump signs bill in Oval Office ceremony
“I want to thank Congress for answering my call to pass this critical funding,” Trump said Friday during the bill’s signing ceremony in the Oval Office.
He praised the package for providing funding he said would “keep millions of Americans on the payroll” and said it was “great for small businesses, great for the workers,” according to Fox News.
According to NBC News, a record 26 million Americans have filed for unemployment in the last four weeks due to widespread shutdowns of businesses deemed non-essential in order to slow the spread of the coronavirus throughout the United States.
Loans given under the PPP would be forgivable for small businesses, provided they keep all full-time workers on their payroll at their original salaries. The program was established as part of the $2.2 trillion CARES act passed on March 27, but it quickly ran out of money, as thousands of businesses found themselves unable to secure the funding they needed, according to CBS News.
Some publicly traded companies managed to obtain millions of dollars in loans under the program, but most have pledged to return the money in the wake of public outcry over the situation, Forbes reported. New guidelines released by the administration on Thursday warned such companies not to seek loans under a program that was intended to help small businesses survive the economic downturn.
More aid yet to come?
Yet another coronavirus relief package is already being discussed, and it could include aid to states and local governments, infrastructure spending, and a payroll tax cut, CNBC reported.
Further legislation will not be taken up until May, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said on Wednesday, according to NBC News.
Republicans in Congress including McConnell have begun to express concern about the amount of debt being accumulated as a result of the relief packages that have already been passed. According to CNBC, McConnell has signaled that he wants to wait and see whether more aid is truly needed before considering another relief package that will likely be even bigger than this latest installment.