WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) – The House is poised to send to President Trump the next round of coronavirus relief that largely helps struggling small businesses.
The bill gives a $300 billion boost to the expired Paycheck Protection Program, which is designed to allow the companies to keep employees on the payroll during the pandemic.
“These are the businesses that are the lifeline of so many of our local economies,” said Rep. Terri Sewell, D-AL.
Sewell said passing more PPP funding is especially important to minority-owned businesses and nonprofits that had trouble accessing the money in the last round.
“I’m glad that we’re taking steps today to address the inequities, and indirectly and directly allow funding for lenders that service the truly local barbershops, beauty shops, restaurants on Main Street across this country,” she said.
Sewell’s colleagues on the other side of the aisle said they wanted more funding for the program two weeks ago, but Democrats held it up.
“We have lots of small businesses that are cued up to get these loans and because Congress hasn’t done its job, the loans haven’t been available to them,” said Rep. Bradley Byrne, R-AL.
“How many people that filed unemployment today filed because their small business didn’t have access to this funding that we’re voting on today?,” said Rep. David Kustoff, R-TN.
However, Democrats were also fighting for billions more for testing and hospitals, which both made it into the new bill and now have support from Republicans and the White House.
Rep. Phil Roe, R-TN, said the legislation also gives nearly $1 billion to rural health clinics and helps Americans who do not have health insurance.
“If they have a COVID-related illness, it will be covered,” Roe said.
The bill does not include money for state and local governments, but Rep. Michael Guest, R-MS, said that will be the next issue Congress tackles once lawmakers return next month. Both chambers are currently scheduled to come back May 4.
“If we can ask people to go to work every day and provide vital functions, we need to be here in Washington,” Guest said.