COVID-19: Agreement reached on the largest stimulus bill in U.S. history
With agreement reached on the largest stimulus bill in U.S. history, the Senate is aiming to vote quickly to make the massive $2 trillion spending bill law. The expensive and far-reaching measure is equivalent to 9% of the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP) and is the third stimulus bill proposed by Congress to address the economic and social disruption caused by the global COVID-19 pandemic. It follows an initial $8.3 billion measure largely aimed at developing a vaccine and a second package, passed last week, that mandated greater access to paid sick leave for workers as well as free COVID-19 testing.
The full details have yet to be released. But over the last 24 hours, the elements of the proposal have come into sharper focus:
- $250 billion set aside for direct payments to individuals and families,
- $350 billion in small business loans,
- $250 billion in unemployment insurance benefits and
- $500 billion in loans for distressed companies.
The plan will deliver a massive infusion of financial aid into a struggling economy hard hit by widespread job losses, with provisions to help impacted American workers and families as well as small businesses and major industries including airlines.
Under the plan as it was being negotiated:
- Individuals who earn $75,000 in adjusted gross income or less would get direct payments of $1,200 each;
- Married couples earning up to $150,000 would receive $2,400 -- and an additional $500 per each child.
- The stimulus payment would scale down by income, phasing out entirely at $99,000 for singles and $198,000 for couples without children.
While the final text of the bill hasn't been released, some of the areas have been debated behind closed doors for days. There was intense partisan debate over the $500 billion proposal to provide loans to distressed companies, with $50 billion in loans for passenger air carriers. The Democratic Party contended there was not enough oversight on how the money would be doled out, but the Trump Administration agreed to an oversight board and the creation of an inspector general position to review how the money is spent.
The bill would significantly boost unemployment insurance benefits, expanding eligibility and offering workers an additional $600 a week for four months, on top of what state unemployment programs pay. These unemployment benefits would also extend to self-employed workers. Also, the bill would ensure the Small Business Administration could serve as a guarantor for loans of up to $10 billion for small businesses to ensure they can maintain their payrolls and pay off their debts.
In addition, the bill would provide a major amount of funding for hard-hit hospitals -- $130 billion -- as well as $150 billion for state and local governments that are cash-strapped due to their response to combat coronavirus.
We will update this post as additional details are released. Article compiled by David Peritz. For additional information contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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