Congress OKs Additional COVID-19 Relief Package
WASHINGTON–Lawmakers in April added billions of dollars in COVID-19 pandemic relief when Congress passed and President Donald Trump signed HR 266, the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act.
The COVID-19 supplemental relief package passed the Senate on April 21, the House on April 23, and was signed by the president on April 24.
It enhances March’s $2.2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act by providing an additional $310 billion for the CARES Act’s Payroll Protection Program (PPP), providing $75 billion for hospitals, $25 billion for COVID-19 testing and $60 billion to fortify the Small Business Administration’s Disaster Loans Program Account and Emergency Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program, according to text posted on the Congress.gov website.
Of the $310 billion allocated for PPP, the bill text indicates $30 billion is set aside for lenders with less than $50 billion in assets and another $30 billion is reserved for lenders with less than $10 billion in assets.
This was done to address complaints that many smaller businesses were crowded out of the $350 billion allocated to PPP in the CARES Act in favor of larger businesses, according to the Wall Street Journal, which reports, “Democrats successfully pushed for the $60 billion in earmarked funds for small, midsize and community lenders amid concerns that certain groups, including women, minorities and people in rural areas might have particular difficulty accessing PPP loans.”
The WSJ notes that the $350 billion allocated to PPP in the CARES Act ran out in less than two weeks.
The HR 266 text says the $25 billion allocated for COVID-19 testing must go toward “necessary expenses to research, develop, validate, manufacture, purchase, administer and expand capacity for COVID-19 tests.”
Of the $25 billion total, $11 billion is directed to states, localities, territories and tribal entities, which a CNN report says “had been a big sticking point in negotiations as President Trump had pushed for states to be responsible for expanding testing capacity while Democrats had pushed for the federal government to take a larger role.”
Democratic negotiators also had pushed for additional funding for state and local governments, but signed off on the HR 266 provisions when President Trump promised that would be addressed in the next coronavirus relief package, CNN adds.