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House Passes Small-Business Loan Funding Bill

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The full House passed by a 388-5 vote late Thursday afternoon the $484 billion economic aid bill that includes $320 billion in additional funds for small-business loans under the Paycheck Protection Program, which passed the Senate Tuesday.

The stimulus bill, the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act, will restart the PPP, which ran out of money last week. It also includes $75 billion for hospitals and $25 billion for COVID-19 testing. President Donald Trump has said he will sign the bill.

Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., said on an early Thursday afternoon webcast held by the American Council for Capital Formation that the new PPP funds “will be available as early as tomorrow.”

The House, which convened in masks Thursday, last met on Capitol Hill on March 27 during a legislative session to pass the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

The House’s first vote on Thursday was to approve setting up a select subcommittee to oversee the administration’s COVID-19 response, including how PPP funds are being spent. The subcommittee will be part of the House Oversight and Reform Committee.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Wednesday that the Senate would wait at least until May 4 — when both the Senate and House reconvene — to forge ahead on a new stimulus measure to include additional funds for state and local governments.

“We’re going to push the pause button here, because I think this whole business of additional assistance for state and local governments needs to be thoroughly evaluated,” McConnell said on the Hugh Hewitt show. “There’s not going to be any desire on the Republican side to bail out state pensions by borrowing money from future generations.”

But Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said Thursday on MSNBC that McConnell’s remarks on letting states go bankrupt “are so far out of mainstream he’s going to have to walk them back. This is not an abstract concept. What he’s dealing with is the firing, the furloughing, of police officers and firefighters; ambulance drivers and bus drivers; people who keep our food safe.”

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