US Senate passes $484 bn aid package for small businesses, hospitals
Washington, Apr 21 (efe-epa).- The United States Senate on Tuesday passed a $484 billion Covid-19 relief package that includes additional aid for small businesses and new funding for hospitals and coronavirus tests.
The House of Representatives is expected to approve the legislation on Thursday, after which it will go to President Donald Trump’s desk for his signature.
The aid package includes $321 billion in low-interest loans for small businesses pummeled by pandemic-triggered lockdowns, $75 billion for hospitals and $25 billion to boost the number of coronavirus tests carried out nationally.
If it gets the green light from both houses of Congress, the bill will become the fourth stimulus package aimed at assisting workers and businesses in the US, which has more than 800,000 confirmed Covid-19 cases and 43,700 coronavirus-related deaths, according to the latest figures from John Hopkins University.
This latest bill will bring the total amount of congressionally approved Covid-19 stimulus funding to $3 trillion, equivalent to the gross domestic product of the United Kingdom.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, the Trump administration’s point person in talks with congressional Democrats, said Tuesday at the daily coronavirus task force briefing at the White House that lawmakers had come together and understood the importance of the stimulus measures.
In recent days, the speaker of the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, had cautioned that this latest stimulus package is only a patch and that more funds will be needed to assist the 22 million people left unemployed over the past month due to the economic lockdowns.
Trump said Tuesday on Twitter that once this latest aid package is approved his administration plans to start a new round of negotiations with the Democrats.
His intention is for a new fiscal relief package to include assistance for state and local governments, as well as tax incentives for restaurants and companies in the entertainment and sports industries and payroll tax cuts.
Trump also wants the next stimulus bill to allocate funds for the construction of bridges and other infrastructure.
Democrats, for their part, are expected to continue to press for increased assistance for hospitals, which has been their funding priority in the current crisis. EFE