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Congress Passes $500 Billion Measure to Help Employers

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Congress delivered on Thursday nearly $500 billion in coronavirus spending relief to employers and hospitals.

The measure passed with a 388-5 vote.

“Millions of people out of work,” said Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. “This is really a very, very, very sad day. We come to the floor with nearly 50,000 deaths, a huge number of people impacted, and the uncertainty of it all. We hope to soon get to a recovery phase. But right now we’re still in mitigation.”

The core of the bill includes the Trump administration’s $250 billion funding request to help small- and medium-size businesses with payroll, rent and other expenses. The payroll program provides forgivable loans in order to allow businesses to continue paying their workers while they remain closed for social distancing and stay-at-home orders.

It also contains $100 billion that Democrats requested for hospitals and a nationwide testing program, in addition to $60 billion for small banks. Another $60 billion are set aside for small-business loans and grants that are delivered through the Small Business Administration’s existing disaster aid program.

President Donald Trump commented at his daily White House briefing on Thursday. “At a time when many Americans are enduring significant economic challenges, this bill will help small businesses to keep millions of workers on the payroll.”

Thursday’s measure brings the total federal rescue funding to $2.4 trillion, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

In related matter, the House also voted along party lines (212-182) Thursday to establish a special committee that would oversee how the Trump administration spends the funds Congress is providing to fight the coronavirus.

The bill now heads to President Trump’s desk for his signature.