The House on Thursday cleared a $484 billion COVID-19 relief bill that will replenish the Paycheck Protection Program with an additional $320 billion and make farms eligible for a separate disaster loan program for small businesses.
The bill, which also will provide $75 billion to health care providers, was signed into law by President Donald Trump the following day.
The bill passed 388-5 in what was the chamber’s first session since the last economic relief bill passed March 27; the House is not expected to return to action until May 4.
Everything in the bill "is in the interest of job retention … and to address the key issue of health: Testing, testing, testing," said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.
The Paycheck Protection Program, which is designed to compensate small businesses, including farms, for two months of their wage costs, had been out of money for a week. The new funding includes $60 billion targeted to small lenders and minorities.
Some $4.4 billion of the PPP’s initial round of funding went to businesses involved in agriculture, forestry and hunting and fishing, according to Small Business Administration data.
The bill will allow farms to participate in the SBA's Economic Injury Disaster Loan program. Businesses that are experiencing a temporary loss of revenue can get a grant for $10,000 and borrow up to $2 million under the program. The bill also provided $10 billion to replenish the program.
Interested in more coverage and insights? Receive a free month of Agri-Pulse or Agri-Pulse West by clicking here.
"This bill doesn’t try to please everybody. Or do everything. It focuses on replenishing small business loan programs that local businesses and their workers desperately need,” said Texas Rep. Kevin Brady, the top Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee.
"It provides more funding for our hospitals and health care workers who man the front lines of this pandemic. And it commits more of your tax dollars to producing and distributing tests to communities that need them."
Left out of the bill was a boost in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits. Democrats have been pushing for a temporary 15% increase.
Updates on Friday with bill signed into law.
For more news, go to www.Agri-Pulse.com.