COVID-19

Breaking down the new COVID-19 relief bill

David Brancaccio, Nancy Marshall-Genzer, and Alex Schroeder Apr 22, 2020
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$310 billion goes toward loans for small businesses, the Paycheck Protection Program. Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images
COVID-19

Breaking down the new COVID-19 relief bill

David Brancaccio, Nancy Marshall-Genzer, and Alex Schroeder Apr 22, 2020
$310 billion goes toward loans for small businesses, the Paycheck Protection Program. Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
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The House of Representatives is expected to pass new COVID-19 relief money that got through the Senate Tuesday. Among other things, the roughly $484 billion bill would replenish the program to help small businesses avoid laying people off, a program that has run dry.

It’s a lot of money: $310 billion goes toward loans for small businesses, the Paycheck Protection Program. There’s $60 billion set aside for small lenders, and another $60 billion for Small Business Administration disaster assistance loans and grants. There’s also $100 billion for hospitals and testing.

After the House votes Thursday, as it’s expected to, President Donald Trump says he’ll sign the bill, and that’ll get the new Paycheck Protection loan money flowing.

But it’ll be used up quickly, according to David Pommerehn, general counsel for the Consumer Bankers Association.

“We expect that those funds will help. We expect that they’ll get into the hands of the borrowers that need them, but they’re going to go very quickly,” Pommerehn said. “Most likely, that funding will likely be depleted within 48 to 72 hours.”

Congressional leaders say there will be another aid bill after this one. They’re not saying how much could be in it for small business loans. But Democrats say they’ll insist on more money for state and local governments.

President Trump has tweeted his support for that, saying some of the money could go toward infrastructure, things like bridges, tunnels and broadband.

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

Will the federal government extend the extra COVID-19 unemployment benefits?

It’s still unclear. Congress and President Donald Trump are deciding whether to extend the extra $600 a week in unemployment benefits workers are getting because of the pandemic. Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia believes the program should not be extended, and White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said the additional money is disincentivizing some workers from returning to their jobs. Democrats want to keep providing the money until January.

As states lift restrictions, are people going back to stores and restaurants?

States have relaxed their restrictions, and many of us have relaxed, too. Some people have started to make exceptions for visiting restaurants, if only for outdoor dining. Some are only going to places they trust are being extra cautious. But no one we’ve talked to has really gone back to normal. People just aren’t quite there yet.

Will surges in COVID-19 cases mean a return to lockdowns?

In many areas where businesses are reopening, cases of COVID-19 are trending upwards, causing some to ask if the lockdowns were lifted too soon, and if residents and businesses might have to go through it all again. So, how likely is another lockdown, of some sort? The answer depends on who you ask. Many local officials are now bullish about keeping businesses open to salvage their economies. Health experts, though, are concerned.

You can find answers to more questions here.

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