The House is anticipated to pass a $484 billion coronavirus economic relief bill on Thursday (April 23), which was approved by the Senate on Tuesday (April 21) following a two-week stalemate. The new funding to the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act will include more than $322 billion for the Payment Protection Program (PPP) -- the popular forgiveness-loan plan designed to rescue struggling small- and medium-sized businesses, but which ran out of money after just 13 days.
The new funding measure will also include $60 billion for the Small Business Administration's disaster relief fund, $75 billion to hospitals and $25 billion to ramp up coronavirus testing. About $60 billion of the additional funding would also be set aside for “underbanked” businesses in rural and minority areas that had trouble accessing the loans.
Democrats and Republicans agreed on the new funds after several days of contentious negotiations. President Donald Trump tweeted that he urged lawmakers to pass the bill “with additional funding for PPP, Hospitals, and Testing.” He is expected to sign the measure after it passes the House.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) endorsed the deal as well, but said in a joint statement that Democrats "flipped this emergency package from an insufficient Republican plan that left behind hospitals and health and frontline workers and did nothing to aid the survival of the most vulnerable small businesses on Main Street.
In an interview on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on Wednesday (April 22), Pelosi said House lawmakers were ready to move on to a fifth aid package that would also include money to protect U.S. elections and the U.S. Postal Service.
She also slammed Trump’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. “He was not properly prepared, not with the truth, with the facts, or the admission of what was happening in our country — delay, whatever, delay, denial, death,” she said. “And instead we'd like to see him insist on the truth and we must insist on the truth with him.”
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is concerned that once the country reopens, lawsuits could arise against businesses for exposing customers to the coronavirus. To help remedy the situation, the chamber said there could be a “safe harbor” in the mode of guidelines for businesses strictly following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines.