April 23, 2020
WASHINGTON – Congress delivered an infusion of nearly $ 500 billion in coronavirus spending Thursday, launching new relief to employers and hospitals that bow under the strain of a pandemic that has caused nearly 50,000 American lives and a job out of six in the United States.
Rep. Dan Bishop, the Republican who represents the N.C. 9 in the United States House, trumpeted the passage of the aid package.
"I voted proudly for this bill, which will replenish the critical funding that small businesses must avoid laying off and firing employees when state governments force them to shut down," said Bishop. "Unfortunately, Democrats tried to delay this funding after its deadline, using job losses as a" lever "for partisan demands. Despite harmful delays, critical funding will soon be in the hands of needy North Carolinians , including our dedicated farmers. We must continue to support these essential members of our communities and economies who are eager to get back to work. "
The bill approved the vocal vote and heads to President Donald Trump's desk for his signature, according to the bishop's office. The Senate Amendment to H. 266 – Payroll Protection Program and Healthcare Improvement Act includes:
– $ 310 billion for the payroll protection program, including $ 60 billion for small and medium-sized participating lenders;
– an additional $ 10 billion for emergency catastrophe emergency grants;
– grants $ 50 billion for disaster loans, open to farms with fewer than 500 employees;
– $ 75 billion towards hospitals and healthcare facilities;
– and $ 25 billion for advanced testing and availability.
The measure was approved almost unanimously, but the lopsided counting hides a potentially more rugged path ahead of the formation of battle lines for a far more ambitious future legislation that could prove to be much more difficult to maneuver through Congress.
The bipartisan measure approached the transition as lawmakers met in Washington as a group for the first time since March 27, adopting stricter social exclusion rules as they sought to demonstrate that they could do their job despite the COVID-19 crisis.
The masks and bandanas of lawmakers added a gloomy tone to their efforts to help a nation staggered by the health crisis and the devastating economic costs of the pandemic.
"Millions of jobless people," said spokeswoman Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. “This is really a very, very, very sad day. We come ashore with almost 50,000 dead, a huge number of people affected and the uncertainty of all this. We hope to get to a recovery phase soon. But right now we are still in mitigation. "
The bill is anchored by the Trump administration's $ 250 billion loan application to replenish a fund to help small and medium-sized businesses with paychecks, rent and other expenses. The wages program offers forgivable loans so that companies can continue to pay workers while forced to remain closed due to social distances and house orders.
President Donald Trump celebrated the passage of the bill during his daily briefing at the White House on Thursday. "At a time when many Americans are facing major economic challenges, this bill will help small businesses keep millions of workers on the payroll," he said.
The 388-5 vote – with Rep. Justin Amash, I-Mich., Voting "present" – came at the end of an annoying passageway. Republicans sought immediate action on Trump's "clean" request for small business money – backed by powerful business groups supported by the GOP – but the Democrats asked for equal funding for their priorities, frustrating the Republicans who made them they accused of trying to exploit during the crisis. Republicans have said that delays in rebuilding the wage subsidy program have likely prompted some struggling companies to shut down.
The signs of the pandemic were everywhere in the Chamber chamber on Thursday. As Pelosi spoke from the ground, she lowered a white scarf that had covered most of her face. House chaplain Patrick Conroy said the opening prayer wearing a yellow protective mask and most lawmakers and helpers on the sparsely populated floor of the chamber also wore masks.
With the entire Capitol closed to the public, visitors' galleries have been reserved for lawmakers in an attempt to separate them.
The passage of more coronavirus relief is likely in the coming weeks. Supporters are already warning that the corporate-backed wage protection program will almost immediately exhaust the new $ 250 billion. Launched a few weeks ago, the program quickly hit the loan limit after approving nearly 1.7 million loans. This left thousands of small businesses in limbo as they sought help.
Pelosi and allies such as the president of the Ways and Means committee, Richard Neal, D-Mass., Have said that the next measure will distribute more relief to individuals, extend the most generous unemployment benefits to the fall, provide another round of direct payments to the most people and will help those who get laid off by insuring health care through COBRA.
Democrats tried to win another round of funding for state and local governments in Thursday's bill, but were rejected by Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. McConnell says he doesn't want to save Democrat-ruled states for tax problems that preceded the pandemic, but there is also a lot of demand for tax relief from Republicans.
After the Senate passed the latest bill on Tuesday, McConnell said that Republicans would no longer entertain the coronavirus rescue legislation until the Senate returns to Washington, promising that Republicans will express themselves better in the future legislation, rather than leaving it in the hands of bipartisan leaders.
Pelosi attacked McConnell to initially oppose adding money to his original $ 250 billion package and saying that cash-strapped states should have been allowed to file for bankruptcy, a move they currently cannot do and which would threaten a vast range of state services. McConnell's comments prompted a protest – including from the GOP governors – and subsequently tempered his remarks.
"Oh really?" Pelosi said. "What made you think it was a good idea?"
Thursday's measure brings total bailout funding compared to the four measures, measured by the cumulative impact of spending proposals and tax cuts on the deficit, to $ 2.4 trillion, according to the Bureau of Congress. balance.
Every day brings new evidence of the economic calamity caused by the virus. Thursday morning the government reported that 4.4 million people applied for unemployment benefits last week as layoffs sweep the economy. Over the past five weeks, approximately 26 million people have applied for unemployment benefits, or about one in six US workers.
The state of Michigan announced this week that it is temporarily laying off nearly 3,000 workers.
All in all, the four coronavirus bills drafted by Congress would deliver at least $ 2.4 trillion in business aid, testing and treatment and direct payments to individuals and the unemployed, according to the Congressional Budget Office. The deficit is almost certain to violate $ 3 trillion this year and will likely go well above that when CBO issues new data on Friday.
Among the candidates for aid in the next bill is the postal service, which has over 600,000 workers but is blocked by the loss of revenue related to COVID-19.
In related matters, the House used a 212-182 party vote Thursday to set up a special committee to oversee how the Trump administration spends the large sums of money that Congress is providing to combat coronavirus. Republicans accused Democrats of doing politics with the crisis, but Democrats said Congress must keep an eye on the effort.
In this image from the video, Representative Jim McGovern, D-Mass., Speaks Thursday on the floor of the House of Representatives at the United States Congress in Washington, DC. Congress gave final approval Thursday for a $ 500 billion virus aid package.