House Approves $484B More for Small Businesses, Testing

Democrats add a panel to investigate administration's actions
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 23, 2020 6:04 PM CDT
House Approves $484B More for Small Businesses, Testing
Speaker Nancy Pelosi walks to the House chamber to vote on the relief package Thursday.   (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

A $484 billion coronavirus relief package cleared the House on Thursday and is on its way to President Trump, who has said he will sign it. The legislation re-funds a tapped-out loan program for small businesses struggling during the pandemic slowdown, the New York Times reports, with a $320 billion infusion for the Paycheck Protection Program. There's also $75 billion for hospitals and $25 billion for testing, both of which Democrats wanted. They also included a requirement that the Trump administration develop a plan for helping the states with testing. Earlier, Democrats won approval for a special committee, which would have subpoena power, to investigate the administration's response to the pandemic and its spending on it. Including Thursday's package, approved 388-5, total federal pandemic aid is nearing $3 trillion.

Assembling for the first time since March 27, most of them wearing face masks and gloves, lawmakers held a somber but fervent debate on the legislation. Members spoke about the effects of the outbreak on their districts. The Capitol is closed to the public, and representatives spread out in the visitors galleries, as well as on the House floor. Speaker Nancy Pelosi pulled down the white scarf over her face to speak, per the AP. "Millions of people out of work," said Pelosi, a California Democrat. “This is really a very, very, very sad day. We come to the floor with nearly 50,000 deaths, a huge number of people impacted, and the uncertainty of it all. We hope to soon get to a recovery phase. But right now we're still in mitigation." The debate in the next few weeks is likely to be about aid to states and cities. There are already warnings that the loan program will be out of money again by then. (Mitch McConnell takes heat for bankruptcy suggestion.)

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