Coronavirus Graphic

President Donald Trump signed a $484 billion coronavirus aid bill into law Friday, providing another round of financial relief meant to serve as a bridge between larger aid packages.

The bill allocates more than $320 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program, which was created through the The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, signed into law March 27.

The PPP provides forgivable small business loans to allow business owners to keep paying employees during mandated closures. The PPP initially ran out of money April 16 due to high demand.

Of the new money allocated for the PPP, $60 billion has been earmarked for small businesses without established banking relationships, such as rural and minority-owned enterprises.

Fayetteville’s Economic Vitality Department predicts that the new round of PPP loans will be depleted within a few days, so local small business owners should apply with an eligible lender as soon as possible, according to the City of Fayetteville.

A list of banks participating in the program can be found on the U.S. Small Business Administration’s website. Applications for the second round opened Monday morning.

Friday’s bill also allocates $60 billion in loans and grants for the Small Business Administration's disaster relief fund, $75 billion for hospitals and $25 billion for testing.

The bill, which was intended to bridge the financial gap between the passage of the $2 trillion CARES Act and a future round of expansive coronavirus funding, included no additional funding for state and local governments.

House and Senate Democrats, such as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., had advocated for the state and local aid during debate on the bill. Ocasio-Cortez was the only Democrat to vote against its passage, because it did not include such provisions.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., vocally opposed any further funding for state and local governments during debate on the bill. He said during a radio interview April 22 that financially troubled states should be allowed to declare bankruptcy rather than receive any more federal aid.

On Tuesday McConnell reversed course, but said that any future bill allocating money for states and localities would come with a catch. McConnell said that he will only approve such a bill if it includes provisions limiting people’s ability to sue health care workers, business owners and employees as the economy reopens.

“We probably will do another bill. What I’m saying is it won’t just be about money,” McConnell said. “The next pandemic coming will be the lawsuit pandemic in the wake of this one.”

Sarah Komar is a staff reporter for The Arkansas Traveler.

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