House passes coronavirus aid package, sends it to Trump

-The Hagstrom Report

The House late today passed the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act, a $484 billion measure that provides more money to the Small Business Administration’s programs and for hospitals and testing for the coronavirus.

The vote was 388 to 5, with one member voting as “present.” Thirty-five members did not vote.

Rep. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., was the only Democrat to vote against it. The Republicans who voted against it were Andy Biggs of Arizona, Ken Buck of Colorado, Jody Hice of Georgia and Thomas Massie of Kentucky.

The Senate approved the measure by unanimous consent earlier this week.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. held a signing ceremony, and it will now go to President Donald Trump, who has promised to sign it.

The bill also includes a provision directing the Small Business Administration to make farmers and ranchers eligible for the Emergency Injury Loan Disaster program.

Rep. Antonio Delgado, D-N.Y., a member of the House Agriculture Committee, noted that he had led 86 House members in the campaign to get SBA to include farmers and ranchers in the EIDL program

“Today, I voted, along with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, to provide increased emergency relief for our farmers, small businesses, and hospitals, as well as address the urgent need to increase our testing capacity,” Delgado said.

“This legislation enables more small businesses and farmers to access the Paycheck Protection Program and the Economic Injury Disaster Loans — both of which are critical to sustaining our upstate local economy. Importantly, the legislation includes critical guardrails that will make sure funding and support through PPP reaches our rural and underbanked communities who need it most.

“This bill also clarifies that our small farms are small businesses and ought to have access to the EIDL program,” Delgado said. “There is much more work ahead, including ensuring we provide state and local funding in support of our counties and municipalities doing critical work to provide services across our communities here in upstate New York.”

A statement from National Milk Producers Federation President and CEO Jim Mulhern was included in Delgado’s news release.

“Today’s changes to PPP and the EIDL program are critical steps for removing the obstacles dairy producers and other farmers face when trying to access COVID-19 small-business support,” Mulhern said.

“We are especially pleased that Congress made clear that farmers are eligible for disaster loans through the EIDL program, and thank Congressman Delgado for leading a bipartisan effort to secure these changes. We look forward to continuing to work with him to provide New York’s dairy farmers the support they need during the pandemic and beyond.”

Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-Ill., also a member of the House Agriculture Committee, said, “This was a critical step — but it does not go far enough. Without support, our corn farmers and ethanol producers will be left behind.”

House Agriculture Committee ranking member Michael Conaway, R-Texas, said, “While additional help for America’s farm families will almost certainly be needed, this bill does extend a critical interim lifeline to farmers and ranchers who are struggling.”

Farm Credit Council President and CEO Todd Van Hoose applauded the bill’s passage and said, “We will do everything in our power to get farmers and ranchers access to funding through the Paycheck Protection Program.”

“With the unprecedented disruption in our nation’s food supply chain, ag producers face low prices at the farm gate while consumers pay higher prices in the grocery store. Farmers will need even more assistance in the weeks ahead to secure our food supply and continue their role as the first step in the food supply chain.”

But Share Our Strength Senior Vice President Lisa Davis said, “We are deeply disappointed that Congress failed to address the urgent and growing hunger crisis our nation is facing by strengthening SNAP. ”

“Americans are losing jobs and income at a staggering rate. More than 22 million Americans have lost their jobs since March 14 — roughly 13.5% of the population. Families are feeling this impact in their pocketbooks and in their pantries, struggling to stretch scarce resources across basic needs.”

Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., said on MSNBC said she, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., now believe that SNAP benefits should be increased 30% in the next coronavirus bill.

Earlier today, the House voted for a resolution to create a House Oversight and Reform Select Committee on the Coronavirus Crisis. That vote was 212 to 182, with all Republicans and Rep. Jordan Amash, I-Mich., voting against it.

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