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April 25, 2020

House of Representatives Passes $484-Billion Coronavirus Relief Bill; It replenishes the Payroll Protection Program

Credit: WFMD

Washington DC (KM) By an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote of  388-5-1, the US House of Representatives  on Thursday  passed a 2nd coronavirus relief bill. It totals $484-billion.

Sixth District Congressman David Trone supported the measure. “We’re trying to get monies to smaller businesses, minority businesses, rural businesses. Our farmers got left out of the first bill,” he says.

In his comments, Trone was referring to the CARES Act, the $2.2-trillion legislation which passed Congress last month, and was signed into law by President Trump. ” In  the first bill,too much money went to many big businesses. So we’re trying to drive this to small entrepreneurial businesses,” he says.

The legislation, which has already passed the Senate, contains more than $300-billion to replenish the Payroll Protection Program which was set up by the CARES Act, but quickly ran out of money due to heavy demand. The program provides  funding to small businesses so they won’t have to lay off employees during the slow economy.

Also in the legislation appropriates money to keep hospitals in operation.. Trone says for a number of hospitals, their revenue streams have disappeared because they’ve stop doing elective surgeries, which generates a lot of their money. He says many of these hospitals have talked about laying off employees. “So in a middle of pandemic, hospitals can’t keep their doors open, and are absolutely looking to lay people off trying to beat a tough budget. So we’ve got $75-billion here for hospitals,” says Trone.

There’s also $250-billion for COVID-19 testing, which Trone says is one way to beat the coronavirus. “Then we can see who has the virus, then we can trace who they’ve had  any contact with, and then we can isolate and quarantine. That’s how we’re going to have to move forward:  test, trace and quarantine. And then we can get American business to open,” he says.

The bill is heading to the President who is expected to sign it into law.

The legislation comes with a hefty price tag of $484-billion. Together with the CARES Act which has a pricetag of $2.2-trillion, Trone acknowledges both are extremely expensive, and payment will come due one day. “Our children and their children’s children are going to be left with a really horrible debt load,” he says. “Thank God we have a very low interest environment right now, but that too will change over time.”

But Trone says we need to get past the pandemic, and get the economy restarted before we can fix the budget. “If we can keep moving in a bipartisan way, then we can go back and address this giant debt issue down the road once we are back safely.”