The House on Thursday voted 388-5 to pass a $484 billion interim COVID-19 package that will not only replenish funds for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), but also provide aid for small hospitals and expanded medical testing.
The initial $349 billion PPP ran out of funds on April 16. After a week of tense negotiations in Congress, the Senate passed the relief package on Tuesday and the House quickly followed suit on Thursday, approving $310 billion to replenish the PPP, $60 billion for community banks and smaller lenders, $60 billion for emergency business grants and loans, $75 billion for hospitals and community health centers, and another $25 billion to increase COVID-19 testing at state and federal levels.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez-Cortez, who represents New York’s 14th congressional district, which is comprised of some of the hardest hit communities in the nation, did not join her colleagues in voting in favor of the bill. Almost one third of NYC’s COVID-19 cases are in Queens and Ocasio-Cortez called out Republicans for prioritizing big corporations over working class and cash poor communities.
.@RepAOC @AOC: "It is a joke when Republicans say that they have urgency around this bill…you are not trying fix this bill for mom & pops. We have to fight to fund hospitals. Fighting to fund testing…It is unconscionable."— CSPAN (@cspan) April 23, 2020
Full video here: https://t.co/IBennHJzF3 pic.twitter.com/1rx1e16Unr
Ai-jen Poo, National Domestic Workers Alliance executive director, in a statement shared with ESSENCE, shares a similar position: It’s not enough.
“Now that Congress has passed interim legislation providing relief for small businesses, they must immediately turn their attention to solutions for working families and the dire situations they face in this time of crisis,” Poo said. “We need a bold, far reaching bill that addresses the scope of this crisis for working families. In particular, families where low-wage workers like domestic workers are the primary breadwinners cannot wait any longer for Congress to act.
“Domestic workers are essential workers, whether they are caring for their own families or risking their health to clean and disinfect our homes or take care of our loved ones, including the people most vulnerable to coronavirus,” Poo continued. “Despite this, they have been largely excluded from the relief Congress has passed so far.”
“We call on Congress to swiftly pass a comprehensive relief package that prioritizes all working people, regardless of immigration status.”
According to the Hill, House Democrats have already begun working on the next COVID-19 relief bill, or CARES 2, which should include “funding for unemployment benefits, food stamps, testing and medical-safety equipment.”
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