- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King of Maine are supporting a bipartisan agreement that would provide an additional nearly $500 billion in funding to support America’s small businesses and hospitals.

“I am encouraged that Congress has once again reached a bipartisan agreement to respond to the COVID-19 crisis,” Collins said of Tuesday’s agreement, which now goes to the House.

Most of the funding, about $331 billion, would go to boost a small-business payroll loan program that ran out of money last week. Collins was one of the authors of the Paycheck Protection Program, and said it helped nearly 16,700 small Maine employers.

An additional $75 billion would be given to hospitals, and $25 billion would be spent to boost testing for the virus, a key step in building the confidence required to reopen state economies.

King, an independent, said the agreement gives some breathing room to states, even though he said he was disappointed by the lack of funding for state and localities, which are facing shortfalls.

“This agreement isn’t perfect, but it is progress, and will make a real difference for several sectors of our society which are being hit extremely hard by the economic impacts of coronavirus, and will move us one step closer to safely re-opening the country,” he said.

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