Trump signs coronavirus aid bill as tensions rise over next one

President Donald Trump signed a nearly $500 billion interim coronavirus bill into law Friday that includes additional money for the small-business loan program, as well as more funding for hospitals and testing.

Trump was joined in the Oval Office for the bill signing by Republican lawmakers and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, who has been a key White House negotiator with Congress in coronavirus aid legislation. During the ceremony, Trump walked back his comments from the day before that people could get an “injection” of a “disinfectant” that kills the coronavirus, telling reporters that he was being “sarcastic.”

Trump also threatened to hold up the next round of coronavirus legislation if the U.S. Postal Service does not raise its rates. Democrats have been arguing for money to be included for the USPS in the emergency funding bills.

“The Post Office is a joke,” Trump told reporters. “The Post Office should raise the price [of package delivery] four times. If they don’t raise the price, I’m not signing anything.”

The bill passed the Senate earlier this week by voice vote and was approved by the House on Thursday on a 388-5-1 mostly bipartisan vote.

The bill includes more than $320 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program, or PPP, created by the CARES Act, which was passed late last month. The program, which quickly ran out of money because of heavy demand, provides forgivable loans to small businesses that keep their employees on the payroll.

About $60 billion of the additional PPP funding will be set aside for businesses that do not have established banking relationships, such as rural and minority-owned companies. Expanding access to the aid was a priority for Democrats who worried that some businesses were being shut out of the fund.

The bill also provides $60 billion in loans and grants for the Small Business Administration’s disaster relief fund, $75 billion for hospitals and $25 billion for coronavirus testing, but does not include the additional funding for states and local governments that Democrats had sought.

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