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What’s different about the latest Senate coronavirus aid bill

On Tuesday, the Senate renewed its effort to mitigate economic pain caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Lawmakers approved a $483 billion relief package including money for hospitals, testing and small business lending -- especially targeted to business categories less successful in securing funding through previous legislation. Amna Nawaz reports, and Lisa Desjardins joins Judy Woodruff to discuss.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    Round four of rescue aid is on its way through the U.S. Congress tonight for millions of Americans hurt by the pandemic.

    Meanwhile, infections worldwide have topped 2.5 million, including well over 800,000 cases and nearly 45,000 deaths here in the U.S.

    Amna Nawaz begins our coverage.

  • Man:

    The Senate will come to order.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    On Capitol Hill, a renewed effort today to mitigate the economic pain of the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • Senator Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.:

    This is even more money than we had first requested a while back.

  • Senator Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.:

    The depths of the crisis we now face meant that funding for certain programs in this bill had already been depleted.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    The Senate passed a nearly $500 billion relief package, including funds for hospitals, testing, and new money to boost a small-business lending program that's now dried up.

    Negotiations had stalled over how to ensure the money goes where it's most needed. An Associated Press analysis found at least 75 big companies, all publicly traded, had received a combined $300 million in low-interest loans through the initial program rollout, frustrating small business owners like Zachary Davis.

  • Zachary Davis:

    A company that's doing tens of millions or hundreds of millions a year in revenue is going to be first in line with a big bank when it comes time to apply for one of these things.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Davis said he scrambled to apply for funds for his Santa Cruz, California, ice cream shop, but was shut out.

    The lack of funding in the new congressional package has also frustrated leaders of hard-hit states like New York.

  • Governor Andrew Cuomo:

    I think it's a terrible mistake not to provide funding for the states. I get small businesses. I get airlines. How about police? How about fire? How about health care workers?

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Governor Andrew Cuomo flew to Washington after that briefing to meet with President Trump on the continued need for state resources.

    That meeting followed an overnight tweet from the president, declaring he would be — quote — "signing an executive order to temporarily suspend immigration."

    Texas Congressman Joaquin Castro, chair of the congressional Hispanic caucus, accused the president of diverting attention from his — quote — "failure to stop the spread of the coronavirus" and — quote — "take advantage of a crisis."

    Even before the president's tweet, immigration to the U.S. had largely been shuttered, after years of administration policies to limit migration and recent steps in response to the pandemic, including suspending cross-border traffic and restricting incoming air travel.

    Meanwhile, outside the White House today:

  • Woman:

    If you don't protect us, we can't protect our patients.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Members of National Nurses United, the nation's largest union of registered nurses, protested the lack of masks and other protective equipment.

  • Melanie Jones:

    It's scary, it's extremely scary to not know whether or not you're protected enough to take care of these patients and know that you're not going to get sick and pass it on to your friends and family.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Medical workers say they continue to be strained.

    The Washington Post reported, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Robert Redfield, warned a second wave of COVID-19, likely to coincide with the next flu season, could be even worse, this as new virus hot spots are still flaring up across the country.

    Massachusetts is now trailing New York and New Jersey in the number of infections and deaths. Governor Charlie Baker reported a surge in hospitalizations today.

  • Governor Charlie Baker:

    The data shows we're still very much in the grips of a pandemic here in Massachusetts. And I know that's hard to hear, and it's hard for me to say.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    At the same time, some states where infections have yet to peak are already moving to reopen their economies.

  • Protester:

    Open America now!

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Hundreds protested in Raleigh today to pressure North Carolina's governor to do the same.

    Overseas, in Italy, once the global epicenter of the pandemic, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said restrictions would likely be lifted beginning in early May.

    Meanwhile, the World Food Program warned today, the number of people facing hunger worldwide could double this year to nearly 265 million, due to the continued economic fallout of the pandemic.

    For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Amna Nawaz.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    That economic fallout hit oil prices hard again today. And that, in turn, took down Wall Street again.

    The Dow Jones industrial average lost 631 points to close at 23018. The Nasdaq fell 297 points, and the S&P 500 was down 86.

    And now to help us dive deeper into the details of the Senate's relief package, I'm joined by our congressional correspondent, Lisa Desjardins.

    So, Lisa, it's fresh off the floor of the Senate. Tell us what the main pieces of this legislation are.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Right. Let's break this down right away, Judy.

    Here's a look at what's in this, first of all, $320 billion to extend the Paycheck Protection Program. That's basically the keep small businesses able to keep their employees on for another eight weeks. There's $60 billion, in addition to that, for small businesses for what's called economic disaster loans.

    That money had also run out — $75 billion for hospitals and other health care providers, and then $25 billion for testing. Some of that is going to the National Institutes of Health, and some of that could go — much of that is also going to states and cities.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    So, Lisa, talk some more about the new money in here, money for — for example, for overlooked immunities.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Right. This is what Democrats, one of the reasons they were holding out, and they thought — felt was very important.

    In this bill is $60 billion specifically targeted for smaller banks, banks that don't (AUDIO GAP) profiles.

    Why is that? Well, let's take a look at some data that just came out yesterday from the National Small Business Association. They found that, from their members, if they remember had more than 20 employees, that 52 percent of those members were able to get help through this program.

    But for small businesses with fewer than 10 employees, only 18 percent were able to get the help through this program. That corresponds to what Amna was talking about in her story about very large businesses getting help, small businesses not.

    Democrats were able to put money in this bill specifically for these small banks. Some are rural. Some are urban. But most of them don't have as much access to this capital.

    Also, quick notes, Judy, the testing program, this bill requires a national testing plan from the Trump administration within 30 days. And down the road, it requires that there be data based on race, gender and location as to who is contracting and who is dying from this virus.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And what everybody wants to know, Lisa, is, when will this must actually reach people?

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Well, the House plans to vote on Thursday. That will be a full House vote. Many members will have to return for that.

    After that, it goes to the president. He's expected to sign it quickly.

    I'm told by experts that, once the president signs this bill, this money can be flowing to businesses very quickly, within just a few days, maybe just one day, because a lot of the architecture has already been established for how this works.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    All right, Lisa Desjardins reporting on what's happening at the Capitol.

    Lisa, thank you.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    You're welcome.

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