The U.S. Congress has passed a $484 bn COVID-19 relief package. This is the fourth aid bill the Congress has cleared for the Pandemic. The House of Representatives approved the legislation 388-5 topping small business aid fund, while funding hospitals and testing. President Donald Trump has said that he will enact the bill, which passed the Senate unanimously on Tuesday.
United States has been struck hard by the COVID-19. The U.S. has over 845,000 confirmed cases and 46,800 deaths. Last month, Washington enacted the largest economic stimulus package in U.S. history, with $2 trillion in coronavirus aid. The total federal spending on COVID-19 totals up to $3 tn. The spending will swell the U.S. budget deficit towards record levels.
The Democrats and Trump are keen on for another relief bill that could top $1 tn, but the Republicans are not big fan of it. Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell has drawn criticism after he said that he would support states declaring bankruptcy rather than having the federal government “borrow money from future generations”.
The COVID-19 has taken a toll on the economy as reports show that over the last five weeks, more than 26 million Americans have filed for unemployment claims. Last week alone, 4.4 million filings were claimed. The Paycheck Protection Program were given $310 bn in new funds by lawmakers. The PPP offers loans to small businesses so they can keep employees on the payroll. The $349bn allocated to the programme last month ran out last week after just 13 days, leaving millions of business owners questioning how they could keep operating.
There was an outcry when it emerged that the funding was obtained by large, publicly traded companies. However, the U.S. Treasury has given them until 7 May to return the money without penalty. Democrats insisted during the negotiations for the latest stimulus package that the funds should be allocated for hospitals and testing.