On April 23, Congress passed a $484 billion funding bill to replenish two small business lending programs and provide more funding for hospitals and COVID-19 testing.
In addition to social distancing measures, House officials, staff members and many lawmakers wore masks or other face coverings, which some removed only to deliver speeches on the floor.
The legislation was negotiated after the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) — a Small Business Administration (SBA) COVID-19 relief program created as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act — ran out of the initial $350 billion allocated within two weeks of being made available.
The PPP is intended to help businesses with fewer than 500 employees keep workers on payroll by extending loans up to $10 million that can be forgiven if employers keep paying their workforce.
The Treasury Department said PPP loan recipients are expected to self-certify “in good faith” that they actually need the loan, and borrowers can’t have other options that wouldn’t be “significantly detrimental” to the business, and the SBA retains the right to audit borrowers later.
The new bill includes $310 billion to replenish the PPP program, $60 billion for another SBA loan and grant program, $75 billion for hospitals and health care providers and $25 billion for a new COVID-19 testing program — requiring the administration to develop a plan to provide greater testing support and access for states.