Washington: The US Senate has passed a 484 billion dollar relief package to bolster small businesses, hospitals and expand testing for Covid-19.
The swift passage by a voice vote on Tuesday came after congressional Democrats reached an agreement with the Trump administration. After the unanimous Senate vote, the bill heads to the House, which aims to approve it by Thursday.
‘The Senate has continued to stand by the American people, watching the CARES Act go into effect and adding money when necessary to keep programs that are working well,” Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said prior to the vote.
“At the core of our agreement is 320 billion dollar more for the paycheck protection program which is already saving millions of small business and helping Americans get paychecks instead of pink slips,” he added.
The legislation includes 320 billion dollar for the Paycheck Protection Program, which stopped processing new applications last Thursday after it ran out of funds.
In addition to the PPP replenishment, the legislation also includes 60 billion dollar for the Economic Injury Disaster Loans, 75 billion dollar for hospitals and 25 billion dollar to expand testing, according to details provided by McConnell’s office prior to the vote.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said the testing measure would help create a robust nationwide program that is needed for the safe return of a fully functioning economy.
“We don’t have enough tests. That cry rings from one end of America to the other… but now help is on the way because Democrats stood and fought for it. President Donald Trump continues to insist there are enough tests to manage the crisis,” Schumer said.
The vote came 12 days after Senate Democrats blocked an attempt by McConnell to pass originally a 250 dollar billion replenishment for the PPP, with Democrats seeking money for hospitals, testing and demanding that the program include cutouts for businesses in small communities that depend on community banks, credit unions and non-traditional lenders for financing.
“I urge the Senate and House to pass the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act with additional funding for PPP, Hospitals, and Testing,” US President Donald Trump tweeted on Tuesday.
“After I sign this Bill, we will begin discussions on the next Legislative Initiative with fiscal relief to State/Local Governments for lost revenues from COVID 19, much needed Infrastructure Investments for Bridges, Tunnels, Broadband, Tax Incentives for Restaurants, Entertainment, Sports, and Payroll Tax Cuts to increase Economic Growth,” he said