By Lauren Schapker, vice president of legislative affairs, ARTBA
The Senate April 21 unanimously passed additional COVID-19 relief legislation, which the House is expected to pass later this week. President Donald Trump has tweeted his support for the bill.
The “Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act” provides $484 billion in aid to existing programs, including $310 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). It provides potentially forgivable loans to businesses employing fewer than 500 people to help maintain payroll. An additional $60 billion is allocated for the Economic Injury Disaster Loan and Grant programs, which also helps businesses stay afloat. While aid to states to conduct COVID-19 testing was included, funding to address budget shortfalls facing state and local governments was not.
ARTBA, through its leadership in the Small Business Leadership Council, April 17 wrote to Congress supporting the increased funding for the PPP program.
Shortly before the latest Senate vote, President Trump announced on Twitter his support for the bill and his priorities for the next phase of economic recovery legislation:
I urge the Senate and House to pass the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act with additional funding for PPP, Hospitals, and Testing. After I sign this Bill, we will begin discussions on the next Legislative Initiative with fiscal relief to State/Local Governments for lost revenues from COVID 19, much needed Infrastructure Investments for Bridges, Tunnels, Broadband, Tax Incentives for Restaurants, Entertainment, Sports, and Payroll Tax Cuts to increase Economic Growth.
U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin later bolstered Trump’s message during the daily coronavirus briefing at the White House. In a March 31 tweet, the president called for infrastructure to be included in future economic recovery legislation. He suggested a $2 trillion investment to jump start the economy.
In an April 9 letter to Congress, ARTBA supported immediate aid to state transportation departments and increased investment in federal highway and transit programs. See the letter and summaries of earlier COVID-19 response legislation at ARTBA’s special coronavirus webpage.