Trump signs relief bill for small businesses and hospitals

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On Friday, President Donald Trump signed a rescue plan for a $ 484 billion coronavirus as Washington plans the next steps in its unprecedented attempt to save an economy and a health care system battered by the pandemic.

The measure invests $ 370 billion in aid to small businesses trying to keep employees on their payroll as they close to slow the spread of Covid-19. It is providing $ 75 billion to hospitals struggling to cover their costs during the crisis, and $ 25 billion for efforts to speed up testing for the disease.

The package becomes the fourth adopted by Congress to respond to the epidemic, with a total cost approaching $ 3 trillion. As Covid-19 cases escalate and enduring economic closings keep millions of Americans from working, many MPs predict lawmakers will still have work to do to support the country – even if Republicans start to be wary colossal expenses.

The legislation includes:

  • $ 310 billion in new funds for the so-called Paycheck Protection Program, which provides small business loans that can be canceled if used for wages, benefits, rent and utilities. $ 60 billion is set aside for small lenders.
  • $ 60 billion for Small Business Administration disaster assistance loans and grants.
  • $ 75 billion in grants to hospitals facing a flood of patients.
  • $ 25 billion to support coronavirus testing, a key part of efforts to reopen the economy.

Republicans and Democrats hailed the package as a boost for American workers and the health care system. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said in a tweeted statement on Friday that he is “strengthening some of the most important parts” of last month’s $ 2 trillion bailout package, including the program. for small businesses “that saves millions of American jobs as we speak”.

Despite this, lawmakers will soon have to look again at how best to tackle the devastation of a widespread shutdown of the US economy.

The first wave of $ 350 billion for the small business program approved last month dried up a few days after it started, and a confusing deployment sparked a big reaction from big companies receiving some of the relief. The new funding cycle could start just as quickly.

At the same time, millions of Americans are struggling to cover their cost of living. State and local governments warn of budget deficits created by their viral response and loss of income, which threaten essential services. McConnell expressed doubts this week about spending more federal money and suggested that states should be allowed to declare bankruptcy.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Friday insisted that Congress pass another bill with relief for states and municipalities. She estimates that the total could be “equivalent to what we did for small businesses,” or about $ 700 billion. The National Governors Association asked Congress for $ 500 billion this week.

“There will be an invoice, and it will be expensive,” Pelosi told reporters. “And we look forward to doing it as soon as possible because jobs are at stake, the protection of our people, the health and well-being of the American people are at stake. And the sooner we do, the better.” . “

In addition to funds for state and local governments, Democrats want the next bill to include a risk premium for workers and money for the struggling US postal service. The president has said he wants to relieve states and municipalities, reorganize US infrastructure, create incentives for food and entertainment expenses and cut payroll taxes.

However, he resisted increased funding for the postal service, which he called a “joke” on Friday.

Friday, closing his remarks to journalists, Pelosi made fun of both the president’s opposition to the approval of more money for the postal service and his speculation Thursday on whether the injection of disinfectants in the body would fight the coronavirus while she criticized her response to the crisis.

“No money for the post office. Instead, inject Lysol into your lungs, ”she said.

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