|Staff Reporter |||Apr 09, 2020 03:21 PM EDT|
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The top Democrats in Congress will likely see their new $500 billion "interim" emergency coronavirus bill signed quickly into law. President Donald Trump and Senate Republicans are indicating their support for it in the wake of news the money set aside for small business in the $2.2 trillion coronavirus emergency law might not be enough.
The Democratic Party, which controls the U.S. House of Representatives, is pushing for the $500 billion interim emergency coronavirus bill to further assist small businesses, hospitals, states, and food assistance programs hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. They want the stopgap legislation to go further than the CARES Act (the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act or H.R. 748) now addressing the economic damage from the coronavirus pandemic in the United States even as the COVID-19 pandemic tears through the country.
Of the $500 billion amount, $250 billion will go to small business loans, whose financial needs aren't being met adequately enough by the $2.2 trillion coronavirus stimulus package signed into law on March 24. Banks are reporting an overwhelming demand for small business loans and a shortage of cash to lend.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) both support the $250 billion package. This amount was also requested by the Trump administration and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). McConnell will aim to pass legislation to this effect through the Senate on Thursday.
Pelosi and Schumer want $250 billion in small business loans, with $125 billion going to community lenders. They also want $100 billion to bolster hospitals and community health centers. There will also be funding for the production of coronavirus tests and protective medical equipment and $150 billion for state and local governments. Democrats also want a 15% increase to the maximum Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or food stamps, benefit
Pelosi and Schumer said their new bill is separate from one they aim to pass to expand the provisions of the CARES Act. This new bill is being called CARES 2. On April 4 Senate Republicans and Democrats agreed to CARES 2, another trillion-dollar rescue package. The $500 billion now being pushed by Democrats is meant as a stopgap while CARES 2 makes its way through Congress.
"After we pass this interim emergency legislation, Congress will move to pass a CARES 2 Act that will extend and expand the bipartisan CARES Act to meet the needs of the American people," said Pelosi and Schumer in a joint statement. "CARES 2 must provide transformational relief as the American people whether this assault on their lives and livelihoods."
Pelosi and Schumer pointed out Democrats have said Congress must provide additional relief for small businesses and families, building on the resources provided by the bipartisan CARES Act. McConnell said he'd try to pass the additional small business funding by unanimous consent or voice vote during the Senate's pro forma session Thursday.
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