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House OKs $484 Billion Bill for Paycheck Protection for Small Businesses

Measure being sent to Trump for signature.
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The House of Representatives passed a $484 billion bill Thursday to help replenish a key fund to help small businesses maintain their payrolls during the coronavirus crisis.

The housed voted 388 to 5 to clear the measure, which passed the Senate earlier this week and now goes to President Donald Trump for his signature. Trump has indicated he will sign the bill into law.

The bill includes $320 billion for the paycheck protection plan which loans small businesses money to keep their employees on staff. The initial $350 billion funding for the program ran out earlier this month. Another $75 billion is slated for hospitals and $25 billion for testing programs.

New data released Thursday shows 4.4 million Americans filed for unemployment in the past week, pushing the total since shelter-in-place orders became widespread in late March to more than 25 million.

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U.S. unemployment is widely believed to be at its highest levels since the Great Depression in the 1930s.

Thursday’s bill pushes the total amount of emergency spending by the Federal government on the coronavirus crisis to more than $2.5 trillion.

But much more is likely to be needed. 

With much of the U.S. economy in a virtual lockdown, state and local governments are quickly running out of money as tax receipts dry up, and as they ramp up spending for emergency services needed to fight the spread of the coronavirus.

The situation is made all the more difficult by Trump’s abandonment of any responsibility for coordinating distribution of vital equipment such as supplies of personal protective gear, and ventilators, leaving states to pay inflated prices.