The House on Tuesday passed overwhelming legislation Thursday that will inject hundreds of billions of additional dollars into a small business loan program.
The vote was 388-5 on the legislation, with a total price tag of $ 484 billion. The Senate passed the bill earlier this week, and President Donald Trump is expected to sign the bill soon.
Most of the money – $ 310 billion – will be spent on replenishing the Paycheque Protection Program, in which small businesses can access loans that can be converted into grants if they maintain a payroll. The small business program included in the latest back-up plan, the CARES Act, quickly reached its initial funding round of $ 349 billion.
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A number of entertainment and media companies have already received PPP loans, including Cinedigm Corp., which received a loan of $ 2.15 million, and Emmis Communications, which received a loan of $ 4.75 million. of dollars.
The legislation does not include a provision aimed specifically at relieving more local media, including newspapers, radio and television stations, which have been hit hard by falling advertising revenues. They would like a waiver of rules that prohibit local outlets from receiving small business loans because they are part of larger chains that have more than 500 employees. Restaurant and hotel chains secured such a provision in the CARES Act, which was passed late last month, although it created some controversy when brands such as Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse and Shake Shake received relief money.
Last week, four lawmakers – Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Senator John Kennedy (R-LA) and Senator John Boozman (R-AR) – sent a letter to Senate leaders in which they wrote that the latest back-up plan “waived the membership rule for hotels and restaurants allowing them to benefit from small business aid, and the same consideration should extend to local media given their vital role in maintaining public health. “
“Even though these media may belong to larger groups, they operate independently,” they wrote.
The latest relief legislation includes provisions to direct money to small family businesses, as $ 30 billion is earmarked for community lenders, small banks and credit unions, and $ 30 billion for banks and co-ops. of medium-sized credit. It also includes an additional $ 50 billion for SBA disaster emergency loans and $ 10 billion in disaster grants.
Because of coronavirus restrictions, members were brought in groups to vote on the ground. Some members wore masks, others took them off to make remarks during the indoor debate.
Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, holding her mask, said her district was worst hit in the country by the coronavirus, and it was a “joke when Republicans say they have an emergency around this bill “. The only people they have an emergency around are people like Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse and Shake Shack. These are the people who are receiving help in this bill. You’re not trying to settle the bill for mom and dad.
She was the only Democrat to vote against the package. Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY), Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO), Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ) and Rep. Jody Hice (R-GA) also voted no. Representative Justin Amash (I-MI) voted present.
Senate Republicans were originally looking for a bill that would simply replenish money for small business aid, and they’ve been hammering Democrats for delaying it. Senatorial Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, however, lobbied for legislation that provides greater assistance to health workers and for testing.
Minority Parliamentary Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) blamed Democrats for further job losses, after reports said 4.4 million more Americans have asked for unemployment benefits.
“How many of those 4.4 million would not have received a pink slip last week?” ” he said.