What’s In the New Stimulus Bill? More Funding for Small Businesses, COVID-19 Testing and More

Following weeks of negotiations, congressional leaders have reached a deal on another emergency stimulus package to help prop up the battered United States economy.

The $484 billion interim bill — passed in the Senate on Tuesday and heading to the House for a vote on Thursday — includes expanded funding for small businesses, financial aid for hospitals and more money for coronavirus testing.

President Donald Trump has vowed to sign the relief measure after it clears Congress. It would become the administration’s latest effort to support the economy, which it has already injected with a massive $2 trillion rescue package — the largest in modern U.S. history — as well as the first two coronavirus bailout plans worth a respective $192 billion and $8 billion.

Here, FN breaks down the 25-page legislation and what it means for Americans.

For small businesses

The bill aims to replenish the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan — both of which quickly ran out of funds.

It would infuse $310 billion toward the PPP that already received $349 billion in the most recently enacted package, which was criticized for appearing to benefit big businesses that had established connections with banks. A class-action lawsuit on behalf of small business owners alleged that major banks including JPMorgan and Wells Fargo prioritized large loan applications to collect higher processing fees. What’s more, a survey National Federation of Independent Business recently found that only a fifth of small businesses that applied for a PPP loan had received the funds as of April 17.

Of the new cash reservoir, $60 billion has been earmarked for lenders with less than $50 billion in assets, and $30 billion is expected go to those with less than $10 billion in assets. The loans are forgivable, meaning that employers who retain workers on payroll will not be required to pay back the government.

The legislation is also anticipated to boost the EIDL with $60 billion.

For hospitals and health-care providers

As many medical facilities across the country face shortages of intensive care beds, ventilators and other critical necessities, the measure seeks to equip hospitals and health-care providers with $75 billion.

That’s on top of the $100 billion allocated by the March-passed fiscal package, which still has $70 billion on tap. The Department of Health and Human Services has come under fire for delays and purportedly not providing enough information on how the funds will be disbursed across the country’s health-care system.

For COVID-19 testing

Although the Trump administration insists that the U.S. has the capacity to test Americans who may have the coronavirus, a number of public health authorities and state leaders have publicly contested these claims.

The new bill includes $25 billion for the manufacturing and purchasing of tests — with $11 billion going toward states and localities to administer carry out tests, provide personal protective equipment as needed and scale up laboratories to conduct contact tracing, which could help prevent the spread of COVID-19 by proactively identifying people that have been potentially exposed to an infected individual. Of those funds, $1 billion will also be granted to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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