The Senate passed a $484 billion package Tuesday to assist businesses, individuals, and the medical industry to deal with the economic and health-related issues brought by the coronavirus.
According to Politico, the agreement, which took two weeks to work out, will provide $310 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program, $60 billion of which will be used for minority businesses and small banks. Of that, $75 billion will go to hospitals and $25 billion is designated for coronavirus testing.
Also, $10 billion will be allocated for grants under the Emergency Economic Injury Disaster Loan program and $50 billion will go to disaster recovery loans. Additionally, $2.1 billion will be used for additional salaries and expenses for the Small Business Administration.
Senate Democrats blocked the Senate GOP’s initial deal of $250 billion for small businesses, demanding a broader package of aid that included millions of dollars for hospitals and states. Democrats fought for the guarantees after a few big businesses received bailout funds meant for small independent businesses, including Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse and Shake Shack.
Sen. Rand Paul voiced his opposition to the bill saying no amount of money will save an economy that isn’t functioning, but voted in favor of it.
“The virus bailouts have already cost over $2 trillion,” he said, “We can’t continue on this course. No amount of bailout dollars will stimulate an economy that is being strangled by quarantine. It is not a lack of money that plagues us, but a lack of commerce. This economic calamity only resolves when we begin to re-open the economy.”
One of the reasons for the delay was the fight over whether to create a national testing strategy. Democrats pushed for additional language to bolster the federal role in overseeing and coordinating testing and to create a specific national strategy. Republicans pushed back after President Trump tried to push the responsibility to each state.
According to CNN, the bill “requires (a) strategic plan related to providing assistance to states for testing and increasing testing capacity” and it requires a plan for states and localities on how the money will be used for testing.
Diana Farrell, president and CEO of the JPMorgan Chase Institute, released a report earlier this month detailing how the coronavirus has impacted African Americans and Hispanic’s health and finances more than any other race.
“As families face job loss and income uncertainty resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, this report shows that black and Hispanic families will bear the brunt of this economic crisis,” said Diana Farrell, president and CEO of the JPMorgan Chase Institute. “While our findings are particularly relevant in today’s crisis, the research underscores the persistent racial wealth gap that exists across age, income, gender, and geographies — pandemic or not. We hope this research will help inform the policy, business, and community response to support vulnerable families through this uncertain time and beyond.”