U.S. Senate approved a bill to allocate an additional $484 billion to help small businesses and hospitals as part of Congressional efforts to overcome the historic economic and health crisis caused by the Coronavirus epidemic.
U.S. President Donald Trump, through Twitter, supported a bill that would replenish funds for some elements of the largest $2 trillion package of anti-crisis assistance in American history, adopted in March.
“I call on the Senate and House of Representatives to pass the Wages and Health Care Protection Program Strengthening Act with additional funding for [the program], hospitals and testing. After I sign the bill, we will start discussing the next legislative initiative with fiscal benefits,” Trump wrote before the vote on Tuesday.
Democratic Majority Leader in the House of Representatives Stanie Hoyer told reporters Tuesday that congressmen were asked to return to Washington by 10 a.m. on Thursday to pass the bill. Trump will then be able to sign the document, giving it the force of law.
Most of the additional funding is intended for small businesses that missed out on the opportunity to get the anti-crisis funds previously allocated.
Hoyer noted that the $320 billion in additional money allocated for the Wage Protection Program includes assistance targeted at businesses owned by women and minorities, as well as individuals who do not have access to banks.
Under this program, if a company uses this assistance to pay its employees in the next two months, the government will take responsibility for these expenses and the company will not have to return the money.
The additional funding was the focus of almost two weeks of negotiations, during which Republicans tried to vote on an accelerated scheme and immediately increase allocations for the program.
Mitch McConnell, the leader of the Republican majority in the Senate, criticized the Democrats for delaying the vote due to the search for additional funding for other programs.
“Republicans have never wanted to close this crucial program to workers and small businesses. We tried to approve additional funding a week before the funds ran out. But Democrat leaders blocked that money by spending days trying to negotiate on foreign issues that had never been discussed,” McConnell said, announcing the agreement.
The democrats saw the agreement as a victory.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, the leader of a democratic minority in the Senate, issued a joint statement stressing that the Democrats “turned this package of anti-crisis measures, which was an insufficient plan of the Republicans, which overlooked hospitals, doctors and workers on the front lines and did nothing to help the survival of the most vulnerable ordinary small businesses.