WASHINGTON (SPECTRUM NEWS) — More help is on the way for small businesses struggling to cope with the economic impact of COVID-19.
The US House of Representatives passed another relief bill on Thursday, that looks to boost its previous stimulus package.
Lawmakers approved nearly $500 billion in aid, largely focused on replenishing the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) after that well ran dry last week.
Around $322 billion will go to the PPP, $30 billion will be set aside for smaller banks and lenders in underserved communities and another $30 billion will go to boosting the Small-Business Disaster Aid Program.
Additionally, this package includes $75 billion in relief for hospitals and $25 billion for more COVID-19 testing.
But that’s not enough to inspire optimism in the country’s next steps for Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Madison.
In a speech on the House floor, he took aim at Pres. Trump’s encouragement of states to reopen while communities like his are still calling for federal support.
“If the president forces us to open too soon, more people will get sick and die, the economy will suffer and more and that would be on the president’s hands,” said Rep. Pocan. “This isn’t a reality show. American lives are art stake. Get us our supplies now.”
But Congressman Glenn Grothman, R-Glenbeulah disagrees.
He argued on the House floor, it’s time to cut the red tape preventing Americans from slowly returning to work.
“I hope in the future that recommendations out of Washington are more on target and employees and hospitals can get back to work,” said Grothman.
Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Green Bay agrees and says Congress shouldn’t be excluded from the push to return to work.
“We’re all here, we all came back, let’s stay here,” said Rep. Gallagher. “Let’s work. Particularly, those of us on committees that have to do important work like the Armed Services Committee. I think it would be common sense to keep us here and Congress can really lead the way in terms of the country getting back to work in a safe and responsible manner.”
Reps. Gallagher, Grothman and Pocan as well as Ron Kind, D-La Crosse were four out 388 lawmakers in the House to support of the bill.
The rest of the delegation was not in Washington, D.C. for the vote.