US Senate passes $500 billion coronavirus relief bill for the US economy and hospitals, sending the measure to the House of Representatives for final passage later this week. The bill was passed by unanimous consent after congressional leaders reached an agreement with the White House to provide more access to small business loans to underserved and minority-owned businesses, sought by Nevada lawmakers and those from other states.
The bill, approved by the Senate on a voice vote in a near-empty chamber on Tuesday, was hurried along shortly after congressional leaders and the White House brokered an agreement on the measure. The House expected to vote on Thursday on what would be the fourth coronavirus-response law. These four measures amount to about $US3 trillion in aid since last month.
President Donald Trump urged Congress to give quick approval to the proposal that mainly expands funding for loans to small businesses hobbled by the pandemic, leaving additional aid to state and local governments for a later bill. Noting the “crash timeline” for passing the bill, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican, said it was necessary during “unprecedented times for the entire nation.”
The deal includes $US321 billion for a small business lending program, $US60 billion for a separate emergency disaster loan program – also for small businesses, as well as $US75 billion for hospitals and $US25 billion for national coronavirus testing. Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, during a short debate, highlighted the bill’s funds for fighting the coronavirus, in addition to aid to small businesses.
“We can give loans to small businesses, but if no customers are walking the streets to go into their stores, what good is that?” Schumer said. Congress is already working on a fifth coronavirus-response bill. Schumer said it could be “similar in size” to the $US2.3 trillion economic stimulus enacted on March 27. For more politics news click here.