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Fourth Coronavirus Stimulus Bill Passes Congress

April 24, 2020
President Trump will sign the $484 billion bill into law Thursday evening in a signing ceremony at the White House.

This story is on a bill passed April 23, 2020. For the latest information on U.S. government stimulus for COVID-19 relief, see Biden Signs New $1.9 Trillion COVID-19 Stimulus Package, published March 12, 2020, or IndustryWeek's COVID-19 Crisis section. —Ed.

The House of Representatives passed a $484 billion COVID-19 relief package on Thursday, April 23. The bill was passed by a vote of 388 for to five against, and President Trump says he will sign the bill during an evening signing ceremony April 24. The latest act, once signed, will bring the total amount of money spent by Congress on coronavirus relief to at least $2.4 trillion.

Despite its strong bipartisan support, the almost $500 billion bill faced an uphill battle through Congress as both parties pursued their priorities. The first version of the bill drafted by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky, contained about $250 billion. Originally, all of the money was aimed at refilling the coffers of the Payroll Protection Program, which provides loans to small businesses if they retain their workers instead of laying them off. Senate Democrats pushed for additions to the bill to provide funding for hospitals, virus testing and small businesses in minority or rural communities. The Democrat-led House of Representatives also added the creation of a subcommittee to the bill which will oversee how the funds are being paid out, over Republican objections that sufficient oversight already existed.

Despite the incredible sum of money spent so far on coronavirus relief, it’s likely that this fourth aid package will not be the last. Following the Senate’s passage of the bill, Mitch McConnell said Republicans would not consider any more coronavirus legislation until the Senate returns to Washington, D.C. on May 4 at the earliest.

While the Senate debated on whether or not to expand the initial bill, the existing small business fund of $349 billion was depleted by more than 1.6 billion loans, delivered on a first-come-first-served basis.

The third coronavirus aid package limits PPP loans to businesses that employed fewer than 500 people. But it included an exception for businesses like hotels and restaurants with more than one physical location, which were eligible as long as they had no more than 500 employees per location.

So far, at least two large businesses have returned loans they received from the program. In the face of public backlash, Shake Shack, which employs more than 8,000 people across almost 200 locations, said April 20 they would return their $10 million loan to the program. Ruth’s Chris Steak House, following an online petition, agreed April 23 to return $20 million to the program. Most loans from the program were equal to or less than $150,000.

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