COVID-19: US House passes 484 bn dollar package to aid small businesses, hospitals, testing

COVID-19: US House passes 484 bn dollar package to aid small businesses, hospitals, testing

Agency News

Washington, Apr 24: The US House of Representatives has passed a 484-billion dollar relief package to boost funding for small businesses, hospitals and expand coronavirus testing. The lower chamber on Thursday approved the bill by a vote of 388-5.

The measure passed the Senate earlier this week and will now go to President Donald Trump, who has expressed support for the legislation and indicated that he will sign it, CNN reported. The package will provide more than 310 billion dollars in additional funding for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) to boost small business lending, as well as 75 billion dollars for hospitals and 25 billion dollars for virus testing. The US has over 845,000 confirmed cases of the virus and 46,800 deaths. Calling the new bill "an interim emergency funding package," Democratic leaders have pledged to advance a larger bill, which could include another round of direct payments to households as well as more aid to state and local governments.

The PPP, designed to provide loans for small businesses to keep their workers on the payroll during the COVID-19 outbreak, ran out of money last week. In a previously approved 2.2- trillion-dollar relief package, 349 billion dollars had been allocated to fund the PPP. About 80 percent of PPP applicants said they are still waiting, and many do not know where they are in the application process, according to a survey released Monday by the National Federation of Independent Business. The new relief package was approved by the US Congress as the COVID-19 outbreak continues to sweep the nation and devastate the economy.

Newly released data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that over 26 million people have filed jobless claims over the past five weeks, with small businesses struggling to retain their employees. On Thursday before voting on the relief package, the House also approved a Democraticmajority select subcommittee to oversee the Trump administration's use of the 500-billion dollar aid for corporations, states and municipalities. (UNI)