The funding bill passed unanimously on Tuesday afternoon following the striking of a deal between party leaders. However, the vote was reportedly not done by unanimous consent, but by a voice vote, in which the "yeas" must out-shout the "nays." The House could pass the bill as early as Thursday.
The method was reportedly used to avoid lawmakers having to return to Washington from recess. However, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has indicated the Senate passing another funding bill before it reconvenes in early May is unlikely.
"The Senate has continued to stand by the American people, watching the CARES Act go into effect and adding money when necessary to keep programs that are working well," McConnell said prior to the vote. "At the core of our agreement is $320 billion more for the Paycheck Protection Program which is already saving millions of small business and helping Americans get paychecks instead of pink slips."
The bill provides $310 billion toward forgivable loans to small businesses, $60 billion of which will be dedicated to small banks and lenders, and also $75 billion for hospitals and $25 billion for additional COVID-19 testing.
Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, a Republican who commonly dissents against party leaders, criticized economic stimulus measures, such as cash payments, enacted independently of an end to quarantine measures.
Sen. Rand Paul: "No amount of money -- not all the money in China -- will save us from ourselves. Our only hope of rescuing this great country is to reopen the economy." pic.twitter.com/dWKbLUwG6g— The Hill (@thehill) April 21, 2020
The US economy has reeled sharply from shutdowns in the country's industrial and financial core, in which tens of millions of people have been forced to stay home in a bid to slow the spread of the highly infectious respiratory illness. According to government statistics, more than 22 million Americans have become unemployed in the last month, and US gross domestic product is believed to have contracted by 4.8% in the first quarter of this year, with a further 30% decline in the second quarter, which began on April 1.
In the latest economic woes, petroleum prices have collapsed into negative numbers as oil producers run out of storage space and demand grinds to a halt.