Posted by 24 April 2020
This week, Congress passed a fifth bill to fund federal response to the coronavirus epidemic. The House met in a nearly-full session on Thursday to debate and then overwhelmingly vote in favor of this $484 billion legislation.
This bill contains funding for a number of items, including:
- $310 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program, which provides forgivable loans to small businesses affected by the epidemic
- $75 billion for hospital aid
- $25 billion for coronavirus testing
- $60 billion for disaster loans and grants
The most-anticipated portion of this bill dealt with the Paycheck Protection Program, which ran out of money last week while Congress was in the midst of partisan disagreements over how to replenish it. Republicans were pushing for legislation that only contained $250 billion in new money for that program. Democrats wanted a larger bill that also gave money to hospitals as well as state and local governments.
While the Senate passed this bill by voice vote, the House of Representatives reconvened to vote on it. After some debate, the vote in favor was 388-5. One member, Rep. Justin Amash (I-MI), voted “present,” while 35 members were absent.
There is already talk about another coronavirus aid bill. Democrats are suggesting that such a bill have money in it for state and local governments which are having budget problems. Republicans are cool to that idea.
What do you think Congress should be doing to respond to the coronavirus epidemic?