CHARLESTON, W.Va. — In a voting period extended for social distancing, the U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday passed $484 billion in small business relief and medical investments related to the coronavirus.
All three of West Virginian’s House members voted for the plan alongside all but six voting legislators. The final vote was 388-5-1.
House members voted in shifts and remained six feet apart during the 80-minute voting period. Legislators also wore masks and gloves while in the Capitol.
The bill sets aside $321 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program, giving small businesses a resource for financial aid during the pandemic. The program ran out of funds two weeks ago.
The measure also dedicates $60 billion to credit unions and “community financial institutions.”
An additional $60 billion of aid is in the form of disaster loans and emergency grants.
Hospitals and medical facilities will receive $75 billion. The act dedicates $25 billion for testing, in which $11 billion will go to local and state governments.
This is the fourth coronavirus bill lawmakers have approved over the last two months; the measures total more than $2 trillion.
Rep. Alex Mooney, R-W.Va., voiced concerns about Congress’ spending behaviors before the vote.
“We need to pay for this stuff at some point. We’re sticking it on our kids and grandkids to pay for this,” he said on MetroNews “Talkline.”
“When we get through this epidemic, we have to get more serious about balancing our budget around here. There’s a lot of spending going on, but I do support this bill.”
Mooney voted against one of the coronavirus bills before Thursday, voicing his concerns about how the Families First Coronavirus Response Act was drafted.
Members of the Senate failed to secure additional funding for the Paycheck Protection Program or medical facilities on April 9. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnel, R-Ky., and Senate Democrats sought unanimous consent for funding, meaning the funding would have passed without lawmakers voting.
Rep. Carol Miller, R-W.Va., placed blame for the funding delay on Democrats.
“Shamefully, Congressional Democrats blocked this vote for fourteen days, costing 4.4 million Americans their jobs in the process,” she said. “I am grateful we finally put differences aside to deliver for the American people, but going forward, Congress must do better. This should have happened two weeks ago. We need to put the needs of our communities first.”
Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va., took issue “some in Washington.”
“Thankfully, today we were finally able to pass legislation to help keep Americans employed and aid our economy,” he noted.
The House also agreed to establish a coronavirus subcommittee to oversee spending efforts. The chamber voted 212-182 with all Republicans in opposition.