Updated: Friday, April 24, 3:00pm EDT
The House overwhelmingly passed on Thursday evening a $484 billion coronavirus aid package, even as members are already at odds over the next phase of rescue legislation. President Trump signed the bill into law on Friday.
Thursday’s bipartisan 388-5 vote was delivered by lawmakers wearing masks and entering the House chamber under strict health precautions. Several members lamented people who’ve died from or are critically ill with the virus, including one lawmaker’s sister. Yet the day was also marked by partisan sniping. The U.S. Senate passed the bill by unanimous consent on Tuesday of this week.
The bill is the fourth coronavirus-related spending measure since early March, totaling almost $3 trillion. This bill is intended to replenish funding to the Paycheck Protection Program for small businesses and provide other spending for hospitals and virus testing.
The House also adopted a measure creating a special subcommittee to oversee the spending of coronavirus funds. The House had not convened as a group since March 27.
The floor action was carried out with carefully choreographed movement and spacing of lawmakers to guard against spreading any infection. Groups of 60 members entered the chamber in alphabetical order to vote, then exited on the opposite side.
Many members took the advice of Congress’ attending physician to wear masks. Between the two votes, the House took a short break so the chamber could be disinfected.
The final bill includes $320 billion to make new loans under the Paycheck Protection Program, which provides forgivable loans to small business that keep employees on the payroll for eight weeks. It sets aside $30 billion of the loans for banks and credit unions with $10 billion to $50 billion in assets, and another $30 billion for even smaller institutions.
The measure includes $60 billion in loans and grants under a separate Economic Injury Disaster Loan program, and makes farms and ranches eligible for the loans. Also, there is $75 billion for hospitals, with a significant portion aimed at those in rural areas, and $25 billion for virus testing.
The testing funds include $18 billion for states, localities, territories, and tribes to conduct Covid-19 tests, $1 billion for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and $1.8 billion for the National Institutes of Health. As much as $1 billion would cover costs of testing for the uninsured.
- [View more Coronavirus business and tax news at CPA Practice Advisor’s Covid-19 news page.]
- [Related: The Largest Public Companies that took PPP loans in round 1.]
[This article was condensed from the original version.]