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Senate Democrats and Republicans disagree over new relief funding

The U.S. Senate passed a record-setting stimulus package late Wednesday night.  The bill now goes to the House of Representatives.
The U.S. Senate passed a record-setting stimulus package late Wednesday night. The bill now goes to the House of Representatives.(WSAZ)
Published: Apr. 9, 2020 at 5:56 PM EDT
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Just two short weeks after congress passed a record breaking relief package worth $2.2 trillion, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell this morning announced a bill adding $250 billion to the relief package’s small business fund.

West Virginia’s Democratic Senator said this morning the Republican sponsored bill does not adequately help small businesses and he, along with many other Democrats, wants to see additional funding sent to municipalities and hospitals. He also wants rural small businesses to have better access to relief funds.

Dems have now outlined their own addition to what is now known as the “CARES” Act. Their version would be worth a total of $500 billion dollars; with $250 billion still going to small businesses. Of that $250 billion, the plan would set aside money specifically for small rural businesses like many of West Virginia’s.

“We're asking for half of that to be set aside for rural America, small businesses like we have in West Virginia, in rural America. We all know we're going to have to put more money into this,” said Manchin.

An outline of the plan sent from Manchin’s office suggests rural businesses would actually be allocated about 30% of the $250 billion.

Here’s a summary breakdown of where money would go, according to Senator Joe Manchin’s Office.

-$65.45 billion given to states and D.C.

-Even the smallest states would receive a minimum of $500 Million

-$53.55 billion goes to local funds; 70% will be guaranteed available for urban counties of 200,000 people or more or cities with 50,000 people or more. The other 30% is guaranteed for smaller areas. These numbers are calculated by the Community Development Block Grant Formula.

-$20 billion will be given to states based on the most recent CDC provided coronavirus infection rate.

-$8 billion will be available for Tribes.

-$3 billion would be available for the U.S. Territories.

-The bill would add on average about $25 a month per person in SNAP benefits

-$100 billion to health care facilities such as hospitals.

-$125 billion would go to the Paycheck Protection Program

-$125 billion would be made available to small businesses; divided up as follows:

-$60 billion for community based lenders

-$50 billion to the Small Business Administration’s Economic Injury Disaster Loans program

-$15 billion to the Small Business Administration’s Emergency Economic Disaster Grant Program

Across the aisle, Senator Shelley Moore Capito says changes can be made to the bill later and small businesses who need help should be able to access it.

“We only passed the CARES Act, which is a $2 trillion bill, just two weeks ago, and the first program that’s gone out the door is the PPP program, which is the small business lending to keep people on their payrolls, to keep people and small businesses functioning,” said Capito.

She says in just the first five days of the program, $107 billion worth of loans to small businesses have been approved.

Capito says Democrats and Republicans probably agree more money needs to be added to the small business fund, but Democrats are hesitating without additional funding for hospitals, municipalities and other subjects. But, Capito says most of the money originally allocated to those subjects has yet to be distributed.

“The push back is ‘we need to put more money into states, we need to put more money into hospitals,’ well, we recognized two weeks ago when we created the CARES Act, we put in 100 billion into hospitals and none of that has gone out yet - well [the first] $30 billion of that is going out today,” said Capito. “The city and state money: we put $150 billion into the original CARES Act for city, state, and county, governments, that doesn’t even go out until April 24th.”

Now, because the senate isn’t actually in session, Capito thinks a quicker plan is suitable.

“So without any policy changing, I think the simplest thing, because the president has asked for more money in the small business, the secretary of the treasury wants that, and ultimately I think the democrats want -- approve of the program because everyone voted for it, we simply fill the coffers back up so that nobody gets the door shuts on them before we can go back and make some other changes,” said Captio.

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