The U.S. Senate yesterday approved a fourth COVID relief package, the “Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act.”
The legislation provides almost $500 billion for hospitals, coronavirus testing and the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). The measure now moves to the House, where even before the legislation was finalized and voted on by the Senate, members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus spoke out against it.
The $2 Trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), passed at the end of March, had provided $350 billion in funds for the PPP, but the program ran out of funds in less than two weeks. The loans are designed to help small businesses pay employees and keep the doors open for several months until, hopefully, the country is open for business again.
From a legislative summary received by The Daily Citizen, the legislation:
- Allocates $310 billion for the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) PPP loans.
- Provides an additional $60 billion for the SBA’s economic injury disaster loans and grants.
- Reimburses hospitals and health care providers up to $75 billion for COVID-19 related expenses.
- Offers $25 billion for research, development, manufacture and purchasing of COVID-19 tests.
On Monday, April 20, members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus spoke on a phone conference call with reporters. According to The Washington Examiner, the group said that “the next coronavirus aid package should include recurring $2,000 monthly payments for individuals, among other provisions.”
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., voiced her opposition to the measure: “We have not seen the final text of this bill. But what I can say is that if it matches up with what has been reported, I will not support this bill, personally.”
In addition to the $2,000 recurring monthly payments for individuals, with an extra $1,000 per child, the caucus members want money for state and local governments, food assistance for individuals and families and voting by mail for federal elections. The group also wants to ensure that illegal immigrants have access to coronavirus benefits.
During the conference call, Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., who co-chairs the caucus, said, “It’s going to be very difficult to support a package that doesn’t have some of the desperate relief that we need for state and local governments, for people.”
The House is currently in recess until May 4, but members are expected to return this week to vote on the relief package.