After passing through the Senate on Tuesday, the U.S. House of Representatives approved a $483 billion spending bill to provide additional funding for the small business “Paycheck Protection Program” (PPP) that was included in the $2 trillion CARES Act last month.
The bill passed in a 388-5 vote, with all of the members of the Texas delegation who were present voting in the affirmative.
Of the $483 billion in the new bill, $321.3 billion was specifically designated to replenish the PPP.
The previous bill allotted $349 billion for qualifying businesses.
According to the Small Business Administration (SBA), Texas had the most loans approved out of all U.S. states and territories, as of last Thursday.
The average loan amount was $211,000, and businesses within the state received a total of $28.5 billion — or about 8.3 percent of what had been dispersed.
Only California received more, with an average loan of $296,000 and $33.4 billion in total.
If the amount Texans receive from the replenishment remains consistent, businesses in the state should receive another $27 billion in aid.
In addition to replenishing the PPP, the bill also authorizes $75 billion “to reimburse health care providers for expenses or lost revenues that are attributable to the novel coronavirus,” according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).
The bill also provides $25 billion to “research, develop, validate, manufacture, purchase, administer, and expand capacity for COVID–19 tests.”
Another $62 billion was set apart for “salaries and expenses and for loan programs of the Small Business Administration,” which includes $10 billion for economic injury disaster loans, according to the CBO.
Rep. Ron Wright (R-TX-06) was not present to vote out, saying that after consulting with his doctor, “we decided that, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I should not travel at this time.”
However, he said that despite his absence, he strongly supported the legislation and would “be submitting a ‘yes’ vote for the Congressional Record.”
“Small businesses are the backbone of the American economy and right now they are hurting,” said Wright in a press release. “It has been, and will continue to be, my top priority to help our small businesses keep the lights on and American workers on their payroll.”
On the expansion of funding for testing, Wright said, “Like many Americans, I want to re-open our nation and jumpstart our record-breaking economy, but we need more testing before this can happen. This legislation will help get us there.”
The legislation also had some support from Texas Democrats, though not without partisan criticisms.
“I voted in support of this interim emergency bill to give much-needed relief for small business, support health care workers, and expand testing capacity,” said Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX-20). “We can only safely reopen our economy by testing, treating, and stopping the spread of this virus.”
Castro also criticized Republicans for “refus[ing] to include funding for local and state governments,” saying, “I hope in the next coronavirus recovery package, we provide the relief to frontline workers risking their lives, to humble families trying to survive, to the small businesses struggling to stay afloat, to immigrants serving as essential workers, and to the most vulnerable people who are hurting the most.”
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Daniel Friend is a reporter for The Texan. He participated in a Great Books program at Azusa Pacific University and graduated in 2019 with a degree in Political Science. He has studied C.S. Lewis’s science fiction trilogy and in his spare time you might find him writing his own novel partly inspired by the series.