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U.S. Rep. Roger Williams said more help is on the way for Texas small businesses and rural hospitals thanks to $484 billion in federal funding approved by Congress and President Donald Trump.

The U.S. House of Representatives on April 23 passed the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act, previously approved by the Senate. On April 24, the president signed it into law.

Approximately $310 billion of the funding will go to the Paycheck Protection Program initially authorized under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act signed by the president March 27.

“We want to make sure that the people who applied for those loans will get the money,” said Williams, who represents the 25th District of Texas, which includes Burnet County. “The main thing is we’re putting money in the hands of small-business owners.”

The federal government had earmarked $349 billion out of the $2 trillion from the CARES Act for small-business loans, but that money was gone in two weeks.

As a small-business owner himself, Williams emphasized the importance of these loans, which help pay employees and keep businesses afloat during COVID-19 restrictions.

The new legislation includes $75 billion for hospitals to help them deal with costs associated with COVID-19 treatments and response.

And $25 billion will go toward increasing COVID-19 testing.

“Testing is a big part of trying to beat this disease, and I’m glad we were able to get that funding,” Williams said.

Highlights of the act include:

  • $310 billion for more loans to small businesses through the Paycheck Protection Program
  • $60 billion for the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program (EIDL)
  • expansion of EIDL Program eligibility to agriculture businesses with fewer than 500 employees
  • $75 billion for hospitals to help cover increased costs associated with COVID-19
  • $25 billion to increase testing capabilities

While COVID-19 is the main focus of local, state, and federal governments, Williams said he is working on other things he believes are important to the country, including improvements to the infrastructure and wrangling down the tremendous national debt.

For more information or assistance on issues related to the CARES Act and the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act, contact the congressman’s staff through his Congressional website.

For more on how COVID-19 is affecting the Highland Lakes, visit the coronavirus resources webpage.