U.S. Sen. Doug Jones, D-Alabama, on Tuesday said he was pleased Congress approved more funding for small businesses, workers and hospitals, but called for support for state and local governments struggling with budget shortfalls during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Congress on Tuesday approved a $484 billion package that includes $310 billion to replenish the Paycheck Protection Program, $60 billion for small business loans, $75 billion for hospitals and $25 billion for additional COVID-19 testing, according to The Washington Post.
“I’m relieved that we were able to come together to pass broad, bipartisan legislation that acknowledges the urgent needs that workers, hospitals, and small businesses are experiencing,” Jones said in a statement. “And while today’s bill was an important step to take, I am disappointed that it did not include relief for our state and local governments.”
Alabama’s state Finance Director Kelly Butler in a press conference Tuesday said that they’ve estimated the state’s general fund and education trust fund shortfall due to the coronavirus crisis and partial shutdown to be $1 billion. The Alabama Policy Institute estimates the crisis could cost the state $1.7 billion.
“I’m encouraged that the President has indicated support for this relief, and I will continue to work with my colleagues and the Administration to ensure we can include it in the next major package of legislation we consider,” Jones said.
The legislation approved in the Senate today includes:
- $321 billion to replenish the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Paycheck Protection Program, $71 billion above Leader McConnell’s original proposal; $60 billion will be dedicated to small lenders and community-based financial institutions, to serve the needs of unbanked and underserved small businesses and nonprofits—especially rural, minority, and women-owned businesses;
- $50 billion for the SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program, which will allow approximately $300 billion in loans to small businesses;
- $75 billion in emergency money for our health system;
- Expanded eligibility for the EIDL program to agricultural businesses with fewer than 500 employees, which Senator Jones has advocated for on behalf of Alabama farmers;
- $30 billion to assist Community Development Financial Institutions, Minority Depository Institutions, community-focused lending intermediaries, and the smallest community banks and credit unions;
- $25 billion to increase testing and contact tracing capabilities; and,
- $10 billion for the SBA’s Emergency Economic Injury Grant program.