House lawmakers debate expansion of COVID-19 relief package

Washington D.C. Bureau

WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) ─ U.S. House lawmakers returned to the Capitol Thursday to debate and vote on the $480-billion expansion of the coronavirus relief package.

The expansion includes an additional $310 billion for the small business loan and grant program called the Paycheck Protection Program.

Rep. Jim Langevin, D-Rhode Island, said the expansion will provide much-needed relief for struggling small businesses nationwide.

“It refills the coffers of the paycheck protection program which is a vital lifeline of so many small businesses,” Langevin said.

But Rep. Brian Higgins, D-New York, believes the new piece of legislation doesn’t go far enough.

“There should be a piece in there for state county and local governments – there is not, I think that is a terrible shame,” he said.

Rep. David Cicilline, D-Rhode Island, agrees that Congress must do more to protect Americans financially, adding that the new legislation needs “more recurring direct financial assistance to families, longer unemployment benefits, more help to small businesses, support to the heroes on the front lines our police officers, firefighters, health care workers.”

Rep. John Katko, R-New York, said states financial burdens will be addressed.

“That’s what the fourth bill hopefully is going to be about and I’m going to advocate for that,” he said.

House lawmakers also argued about the creation of a special committee to investigate and provide oversight on the coronavirus crisis, including where and how nearly $3 trillion in virus funding is spent.

Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Massachusetts, said the funds deserve special attention and should be closely monitored.

“We need to make sure that these resources are going where Congress intended,” McGovern said.

Lawmakers expect to tackle the next relief package when they return in May.

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