Washington: US President Donald Trump has signed into law a 484-billion-dollar relief package to boost funding for small businesses, hospitals and expand COVID-19 testing in the country.
The bill will be “great for small businesses, great for the workers,” Trump told reporters on Friday at the signing ceremony in the Oval Office of the White House, joined by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Republican lawmakers.
The latest relief bill expands funding for saving small businesses and protecting Americans’ paychecks, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, said on Twitter shortly after the signing, noting that it also strengthens support for hospitals, healthcare providers, and testing.
The package will provide more than 310 billion dollars in additional funding for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) to boost small business lending, 60 billion dollars for small business disaster assistance loans and grants, as well as 75 billion dollars for hospitals and 25 billion dollars for virus testing.
The PPP, designed to provide loans for small businesses to keep their workers on the payroll during the COVID-19 outbreak, ran out of money last week. In a previously approved 2.2-trillion-dollar relief package, 349 billion dollars had been allocated to fund the PPP.
US Vice President Mike Pence, who chairs the White House Coronavirus Task Force, said on Thursday at a White House briefing that 4.93 million tests having been performed across the country so far.
The signing ceremony came one day after the House of Representatives approved the bill by a vote of 388-5. On Tuesday, the Senate swiftly cleared the legislation in a voice vote.
The legislation becomes the fourth coronavirus relief measure approved by Congress, raising the overall crisis response to nearly 4 trillion dollar.
The United States leads the world in coronavirus cases, with more than 890,500, inclding over 51,000 deaths.