White House, Congress reach $2 trillion stimulus deal amid coronavirus concerns

Daniel Fowler
March 26, 2020

This is, of course, a far more progressive model than the one pitched by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) late last week.

An additional $500 per child will be tacked on to that.

The relief money for Americans is part of the $2 trillion economic aid package negotiated by President Donald Trump's administration with Congressional Republicans and Democrats.

Direct payments of $1,200 are expected for individuals making $75,000 per year or less, based on income tax returns from 2019 or 2018.

The House will take up the bill on Friday morning and it is expected to pass by voice vote with members scattered around the country, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said Wednesday night. The new agreement removed the phased-in provision that would have excluded lower-income Americans from receiving the full benefit.

Schumer also said that hundreds of billions would be spent on Democratic priorities, including the expansion of unemployment benefits, money for hospitals as well as more funding for cities and transportation. The White House has indicated that Americans could be seeing direct payments as soon as April 6.

The program was expanded to include freelancers, furloughed employees and gig workers, such as Uber drivers.

Small businesses are eligible for a tax credit that would cover 50 percent of wages paid to workers during the pandemic, in addition to $350 billion in small business loans of up to $10 million each.

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The loans would be available during an emergency period ending at the of June, and would be forgiven if the employer pays its workers for the duration of the crisis.

The massive bill - which would be the largest economic stimulus measure ever passed by Congress - includes a $500 billion fund to help hard-hit industries and a comparable amount for direct payments of up to $3,000 apiece to millions of USA families. Another $367 billion would go toward a small business loan program.

This was a major sticking point for Democrats: they successfully pushed for oversight, including the installment of an inspector general and a congressionally appointed board to monitor the fund. The White House also plans to send out $500 to each child.

Interestingly, the bill has provisions that would block Trump and his family members, as well as other top government officials and members of Congress, from accessing loans or investments from Treasury programmes in the stimulus package.

Democrats in the Senate, led by Schumer, held up a final vote on the proposal until more safeguards were put into place to watch money being given to companies and additional guarantees for workers were included.

Chuck Schumer, the Senate's most senior Democrat, said the deal included four extra months of unemployment insurance and prohibited bailed-out airlines from buying back stock or issuing bonuses, per the FT report. Unemployment insurance is also being increased, while payments on federally-held student loans are being temporarily suspended.

It also includes a $340 billion supplemental package to combat the outbreak itself, including $117 billion for hospitals, $45 billion for FEMA's disaster relief fund and $11 billion for vaccines, therapeutics and other medical needs.

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