Here's the scoop on what's happening this week in Congress.
On Thursday, April 23 the House passed the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act, two days after the Senate passed the bill by unanimous consent on Tuesday, April 21. The bill provided $25 billion to support coronavirus testing including developing, purchasing, and administering the tests. The $25 billion to support testing must be allocated in the following ways:
The bill also includes $321 billion for an infusion into the Paycheck Protection Program, $60 billion in in economic relief loans for small businesses, and $75 billion for hospitals.
The House continues to push for a fourth coronavirus stimulus package, looking to increase funding for states and local governments that are financially struggling. Democrats have been collecting information on what will be needed for the fourth coronavirus package, called CARES 2. Pelosi stated the bill is nearly done and is expected to include $150 billion in aid for state and local governments. However, House democrats are hitting a roadblock from Senate Republicans, with Senate Majority Leader McConnell pushing back against any increase in funding, even recently suggesting he would prefer states declare bankruptcy than receive additional government funding.
On Thursday, April 23, the House voted to create a committee to monitor the administration’s implementation of the $3 trillion in coronavirus supplemental funding. The creation of the committee passed through the House along party lines, with Republicans saying the effort was an attempt to slam President Trump politically. The committee will operate under the umbrella of the House Oversight Committee and will ensure that funds are distributed transparently, effectively, and efficiently.
On Thursday, April 23 the Department of Health and Human Services announced that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is awarding $631 million to 64 jurisdictions through the existing Epidemiology and Laboratory Capacity for Prevention and Control of Emerging Infectious Diseases (ELC) cooperative agreement. The funding will use existing networks at state and local jurisdictions to implement contact tracing, surveillance, and testing to control COVID-19.