Senate leaders are planning a vote this afternoon on the latest COVID-19 relief package. Democrats and the Trump administration announced a deal to replenish the popular Paycheck Protection Program as well as provide additional funding for hospitals and testing.
The package that was agreed to overnight includes:
- $300 billion for the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program.
- $50 billion for Economic Injury Disaster Loans.
- $75 billion for hospitals.
- $25 billion for testing.
The funding for testing consists of $11 billion for states, localities, territories, and tribes to develop, purchase, administer, process, and analyze COVID-19 tests, as well as to scale-up laboratory capacity, trace contacts, and support employer testing. The deal also includes $2 billion provided to states consistent with the “Public Health Emergency Preparedness” grant formula, ensuring every state receives funding. There will be $4.25 billion provided to areas based on relative number of COVID-19 cases and $750 million provided to tribes, tribal organizations, and urban health organizations in coordination with Indian Health Service. The legislation also requires a strategic plan to provide assistance to states to ramp up testing.
The Senate will be able to pass the bill by unanimous consent but the House will have to conduct a recorded vote. So, House leaders have indicated they will take up the legislation during a scheduled session on Thursday. At the same time, the House is expected to vote on a change to the chamber’s voting rules to allow for proxy voting during the coronavirus pandemic.
This small business and health care package moving through Congress is seen by many as an "interim" measure to serve as a bridge to a larger bill that could be considered next month. The next bill could include another round of direct payments to households as well as an extension of new jobless benefits Congress passed last month.
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