The Senate via unanimous consent passed a nearly $500 billion coronavirus relief package Tuesday aimed mostly at small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

After weeks of negotiation between key Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill and White House officials, an agreement was reached on an additional $321 billion for the small-business-oriented Paycheck Protection Program. Under the $2.2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act, which was signed into law March 27, roughly $350 billion was allocated to the program, but the Small Business Association ran out of money to fund it last week.

Tuesday’s package — the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act — also provides $75 billion for hospitals, $60 billion for economic disaster grants and loans and $25 billion to expand coronavirus testing.

On the Senate floor Tuesday, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., traded barbs on why the package was delayed, but both said it will help Americans cope with the pandemic.

“The Senate has continued to stand by the American people, watching the CARES Act go into effect and adding funding when necessary to keep programs that are working well,” Mr. McConnell said.

A few minutes later, Mr. Schumer said, “Now there are plenty of disagreements between our parties today, but once again we are coming together to pass this legislation by unanimous consent, not a single senator objecting.”

The House is slated to take up the package Thursday.

Mr. Schumer called the bill a “building block” and said Congress must get to work on another “big and bold package” similar to the CARES Act.

President Donald Trump endorsed the package in a tweet Tuesday afternoon, adding that after he signs the bill, “We will begin discussions on the next Legislative Initiative with fiscal relief to State/Local Governments for lost revenues from COVID 19, much needed Infrastructure Investments for Bridges, Tunnels, Broadband, Tax Incentives for Restaurants, Entertainment, Sports, and Payroll Tax Cuts to increase Economic Growth.”

Source: Pensions & Investments