After days of tense debate, Senate lawmakers on Tuesday passed a bipartisan deal worth some $480 billion that would replenish funds for emergency small business lending programs and shore up national coronavirus testing as a stopgap ahead of another round of major relief legislation. Here’s what’s in the interim bill, and what lawmakers left out.
The bill includes another $310 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program, with $60 billion of that money reserved for smaller businesses without existing banking relationships.
Another $60 billion ($50 billion in loans and $10 billion in grants) is also set aside for the Economic Injury Disaster Loan fund, which is administered directly by the Small Business Administration rather than banks. Farms and other agricultural programs are now eligible for those funds.
The bill will also provide another $75 billion for cash-strapped hospitals and healthcare providers to help them cover the massive costs associated with responding to the virus.
The bill allocates $25 billion for coronavirus testing—a major sticking point for both Democrats and Republicans during late-night negotiations on Monday. $11 billion of that money is earmarked for states and local governments to expand their testing capacity.
Under the terms of the legislation, the federal government is required to develop a “strategic plan related to providing assistance to states for testing and increasing testing capacity.” State and local governments must also submit their testing plans for review.
Notably absent from the agreement is more funding for states and local governments, which had been key priority for Democrats.
Democrats had also pushed for expanded funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)—Republicans blocked that provision in the final bill, The Hill reports.
Lawmakers have been scrambling to pass new legislation after the Paycheck Protection Program, one of the cornerstones of the $2 trillion CARES Act, exhausted its $350 billion in funding last Thursday after less than two weeks. Negotiations lasted for nearly a week after Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin requested another $250 billion for the PPP. Republicans lawmakers led by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell want to quickly approve the additional $250 billion for the program and save other provisions for future relief legislation while Democrats, led by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, are pushed for additional provisions like expanding funding to hospitals, nutrition programs, and state and local governments. Talks stalled on Monday over how to structure a national testing plan, the Wall Street Journal reports, with Democrats pushing for the federal government to take the lead while Republicans wanted to leave that authority to the states.
All together, the bill is worth $484 billion.
What to watch for
The House could take up the bill as soon as Thursday, after which it will be signed into law by President Trump. After that, lawmakers from both sides of the aisle are expecting to begin negotiating on another round of stimulus legislation—what would be its fourth major rescue bill.