DemDaily: The Fourth Wave of Relief
April 24, 2020
This week the US Congress returned to Washington to pass its fourth wave of coronavirus emergency funding, bringing to $2.7 trillion the total in federal funds allocated to fight the deadly pandemic.Congress: Four Phases of Relief
Congress has now passed four phases of assistance over the last six weeks in a historic allocation of federal resources.
Phase One: The Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2020 (HR 6074)
Signed into law on March 6, 2020, the legislation provides $8.3 billion in emergency funding for federal agencies to respond to the coronavirus outbreak. including vaccine development, financial support for state and local governments, and assistance for affected small businesses.
Phase Two: The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (HR 6201)
Signed into law on March 18, 2020, it ensures free coronavirus testing, paid sick and family leave, expanded food assistance and unemployment benefits and increasing Medicaid funding. Estimated cost (varies widely): $350-$500+ billion.
Signed into law March 27, 2020, the $2 trillion coronavirus response bill is aimed at expediting economic relief to businesses and individuals and is the the single largest economic relief bill in US history.
It includes direct financial assistance to most Americans, forgivable loans to small businesses and employees, liquidity for larger corporations with oversight of that assistance, additional resources for health care providers, and state and local governments.
Phase Four: Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act
Signed into law this afternoon, April 23, 2020, the $484 billion relief package provides additional financial aide to employers and hospitals.
* $321 billion to the Paycheck Protection Program, the small business rescue fund that ran out of its initial $350 billion allocation in just two weeks.
* $60 billion for smaller banks to provide economic disaster loans to small businesses, many minority-owned, that have struggled to borrow from bigger lenders.
* $75 billion in emergency relief for hospitals
* $25 billion to ramp up coronavirus testing.
The half-trillion dollar package follows weeks of negotiations between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), GOP leaders and the White House, led by Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin. Notably, the package does not include any relief for local governments, one of the Democrats' biggest demands.Pelosi vowed this morning that the next wave of aid will include that relief, along with extended unemployment benefits, additional cash payments to American workers and families, aid for first responders and the US Postal Service, and new infrastructure spending.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said he will not advance any additional relief packages without the Senate in session to vote in-person when they return May 4th.
House leadership, however, is working on a bipartisan plan to determine how Congress could operate in the coming months, including remotely -- an option opposed by many Republicans.
For this week's votes, Members came in and out of the House in groups of 60, with floor officials disinfecting the chamber inbetween intervals.
|Eight Senators have been quarantined and one, Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) has tested positive. In the House, 38 members have been quarantined and seven have tested positive, including Joe Cunningham (D-SC), Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), Neal Dunn (R-FL), Mike Kelly (R-PA), Ben McAdams (D-UT), Seth Moulton (D-MA), Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ) and Nydia Velázquez (D-NY).
Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MS), announced that her eldest brother died from COVID-19 on Tuesday.
At the same time Congress was voting to provide Americans with relief, President Donald Trump, in his daily coronavirus briefing, advocated that victims of COVID-19 consider ingesting disinfectants.
"I see the disinfectant that knocks it out in a minute, one minute. And is there a way we can do something like that by injection inside, or almost a cleaning? Because you see it gets inside the lungs and it does a tremendous number on the lungs, so it would be interesting to check that." said Trump Thursday.Health experts, lawmakers and companies that produce disinfectants, like Lysol, immediately scrambled to issue warnings against injecting or ingesting disinfectants, which are highly toxic.
For some, however, it was too late, as local health departments reported an increase in calls related to people ingesting disinfectants. On Friday, Trump backtracked on his comments, saying his remarks were made "sarcastically" to rile up reporters.
Today, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a warning against using hydroxychloroquine for treating COVID-19 without strict medical supervision, as it may cause life-threatening complications. Despite repeated warnings by his own medical experts, Trump has continued to advocate for use of the anti-malaria drug, saying it could be "one of the biggest game changers in the history of medicine."
The New Reality: As of 5:00pm today, there were 889,661 confirmed cases of coronavirus spanning every US state, including more than 50,890 fatalities. Worldwide the pathogen has infected 2,789,315 and claimed the lives of 195,775.
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Sources: John Hopkins, Politico, NPR, WashingtonPost, DailyBeast, NewYorkTimes