Trump signs $484 billion coronavirus relief bill to boost small business, hospitals and testing

President Donald Trump signed a $484 billion coronavirus relief package into law Friday as Washington plans the next steps in its unprecedented attempt to rescue an economy and health-care system bludgeoned by the pandemic.

Trump signs $484 billion coronavirus relief bill to boost small business, hospitals and testing

The measure puts $370 billion into aid for small businesses trying to keep employees on the payroll as they temporarily shutter to try to slow Covid-19′s spread. It grants $75 billion to hospitals struggling to cover costs during the crisis, and $25 billion for efforts to ramp up testing for the disease. 

The package becomes the fourth passed by Congress to respond to the outbreak, with a total cost approaching $3 trillion. As Covid-19 cases rise and sustained economic shutdowns keep millions of Americans out of work, many in Congress predict lawmakers will have more work to do to buoy the country — even as Republicans start to grow wary of the mammoth spending.

The legislation includes: 

  • $310 billion in new funds for the Paycheck Protection Program, which provides small business loans that can be forgiven if used for wages, benefits, rent and utilities. $60 billion is set aside for small lenders.
  • $60 billion for Small Business Administration disaster assistance loans and grants.
  • $75 billion in grants to hospitals dealing with a flood of patients.
  • $25 billion to bolster coronavirus testing, a key part of efforts to reopen the economy.

Republicans and Democrats alike cheered the package as a boost for American workers and the health-care system. In a tweeted statement Friday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said it “strengthens some of the most important parts” of the $2 trillion rescue package passed last month, including the small business program “which is saving millions of American jobs as we speak.”

Even so, lawmakers will soon have to grapple again with how best to combat the devastation from a widespread closure of the U.S. economy. 

The first wave of $350 billion for the small business program approved last month dried up within days after it started, and a confusing rollout led to backlash about large companies receiving some of the relief. The new round of funding could get committed just as quickly. 

At the same time, millions of Americans have struggled to cover their cost of living. State and local governments warn about budget shortfalls created by their virus response and lost revenue — threatening essential services. McConnell expressed doubts this week about spending more federal money and suggested states should be allowed to declare bankruptcy.