The House is set to pass a $484 billion interim package of new COVID-19 relief funds today and lawmakers and the White House have shifted focus to the next round of stimulus for the pandemic-stricken economy.
The legislation passed today includes $321 billion to replenish the popular Paycheck Protection Program, with $60 billion dedicated to “underbanked” small businesses; $60 billion for the tapped-out Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program; $75 billion for hospitals; and $25 billion for coronavirus testing. While ASAE and thousands of other associations have made the case to Congress to expand the PPP to include 501(c)(6) associations, Congress made clear from the outset that this bill would be a straight cash infusion for the program and that any expansion of those eligible for the small business loans would have to be debated in the next round of legislative relief.
“We’re ready to go on to the next bill,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) yesterday on MSNBC.
Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) want the next COVID spending package, CARES 2, to be broad and include aid for state and local governments and funding for front-line workers and election security.
The efforts by the White House and Congress to arrest the economic downturn came as another 4.4 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits this past week, marking the fifth straight week that job losses were measured in the millions. Since March 15, roughly 26.5 million Americans have lost their jobs or were furloughed. The unemployment rate during the Great Depression peaked at about 25 percent, and economists said this week that the current unemployment rate probably sits between 15 and 20 percent.
Though there is general agreement on both sides of the aisle that additional significant relief will be needed, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) tried to pump the brakes on passing any more major COVID-19 rescue packages before the full Senate is back in Washington, which could be sometime in May at the earliest.
“My view is: we just added another $500 billion to the national debt. Let’s see how things are working,” McConnell said yesterday. “So we’re not going to move on another bill related to this subject until we all get back here.”
President Trump has signaled he will sign the interim bill that passed the Senate earlier this week and the House today.