WASHINGTON – Congress is sprinting to approve the next coronavirus aid package, a $483 billion deal backed by the White House to replenish a small-business payroll fund and pump more money into hospitals and testing programs.
President Donald Trump is urging swift passage this week. The Senate approved the bill Tuesday and the House planned a vote on Thursday.
Most of the funding, $331 billion, would go to boost the Paycheck Protection Program – a small-business payroll loan program administered by the Small Business Administration and which ran out of money last week. Reports have shown that hundreds of millions of dollars from the funding program had been claimed by large, publicly traded companies and drew criticism from both sides of the political aisle.
However, when asked by WRFA about large corporations using federal aid intended for smaller business, Chautauqua County’s representative in Congress, Rep. Tom Reed (R-Corning) defended the move by larger companies to tap into the program.
“This virus has impacted the entire U.S. economy – that’s large business and small business – and so everyone has been impacted. Large businesses have a lot of employees, have a lot of vendors, and a lot of businesses working for them, so you can have the trickle effect all the way through the economy articulated,” Reed said. “So to say ‘large businesses are bad, small businesses are good’ is not something I will engage in. All businesses need relief.”
Reed went on to acknowledge that some smaller businesses do see a more disparate outcome in the funding process but it wasn’t by intention. He also said that the latest funding proposal would have additional parameters in place, including giving more of the money to smaller community banks which in turn, could pass it on to the smaller, more rural businesses across the country.
In addition to more business aid, the package would also include $100 billion for health care. It would not, however, include any supplemental aid for local governments stressed by the COVID-19 crisis. Instead, that aid would likely be taken up in a future coronavirus funding bill.