House votes on $ 484 billion coronavirus bill as unemployment claims rise

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Washington – House legislature adhering to strict social distancing rules will meet on Thursday to vote on a $ 484 billion preliminary coronavirus bailout package as new unemployment rates add to the astonishing toll the pandemic is taking the US job market.

The legislation, known as the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act, is the result of weeks of negotiations between Congress Democrats and the White House. The measure includes $ 75 billion for hospitals, $ 25 billion for the establishment of a national testing regime, $ 60 billion for disaster relief, and $ 310 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which grants loans to small businesses to help them retain workers and payroll. The PPP used up its initial $ 349 billion in funding last week.

The measure passed in the Senate on Tuesday, and President Trump is expected to sign the legislation once it is approved in the house.

The vote is taking place, as new government data show 4.4 million people The first jobless applications were made last week, bringing the total number of people who lost their jobs during the pandemic to around 26 million.

Approximately $ 60 billion of new PPP funds will be dedicated to financial institutions serving businesses in rural areas without banks and minority interests, which is central to Democrats. Minority company have been particularly hard hit by the pandemic, which has exacerbated structural problems that make it difficult for minority owners to access capital.

A quorum of 218 legislators must be present at the vote on Thursday, which is expected to take place around 1:30 p.m. after a debate lasting several hours, according to the majority leader. Members enter the chamber to cast votes in eight groups of approximately 60 members each to limit possible exposure to the virus.

Representative Ed Perlmutter and a committee member listen to Chairman Jim McGovern and Representative Jamie Raskin chat after a House Rules Committee markup session on Capitol Hill on April 22, 2020.

TOM BRENNER / REUTERS


The vote takes place when the house tries to figure out how to continue its work without endangering its members. The House Democrats presented a resolution on Wednesday that would allow members to do so Proxy votingThis means that a member can vote on behalf of a colleague who is not present. The Republicans, however, rejected the proposed rule change and argued that the house had to go back to work officially.

Following talks between spokeswoman Nancy Pelosi and minority leader Kevin McCarthy, the Democrats agreed to postpone a rule change vote for the time being, and instead the House will vote today on a resolution that a bipartisan selection committee for coronavirus Crisis is set up to monitor billions of dollars in spending under multiple relief bills.

The house and the Senate are not expected to meet again until May. Democrats argue that lawmakers must start work on another phase of relief legislation that would provide more support to state and local governments, but Republicans have questioned whether it is necessary to work on new ones so quickly Laws to begin with.