Senate coronavirus stimulus package: What’s in it
The Senate is trying to negotiate a deal for a nearly $2 trillion stimulus package to provide health care and economic aid amid the coronavirus outbreak and national shutdown of American daily life.
Here’s a look at the highlights of what’s expected in to be in the package, though the details could change as negotiations remain ongoing.
Checks and Unemployment
The package would provide direct financial help to Americans in the form of stimulus checks sent out to many Americans. The proposal would include a one-time payment of $1,200 per adult, $2,400 per couple in the U.S. and up to $3,000 for a family of four.
Republicans have called for minimum payments of $600 to Americans, and aid would be phased down at income thresholds of $75,000 for individuals and $150,000 per couple. Additionally, there would be $500 payments for each child.
It would establish new and much more generous unemployment benefits by adding $600 per week to normal state benefits for up to four months and provides an additional 13 weeks of benefits to 39 weeks of regular unemployment insurance through the end of 2020 if they are sidelined by the outbreak. The coverage would be retroactive to Jan. 27 and coverage would be extended to “gig” workers and independent contractors.
Small Business Support
An estimated $350 billion would be provided for small businesses to keep making payroll. Companies with 500 or fewer employees could tap up to $10 million each in forgivable small business loans to keep paychecks flowing. The program would provide 8 weeks of assistance through federally guaranteed loans qualifying employers who maintain payroll; if they do, other costs like mortgage interest, rent, and utilities would be forgiven.
Funding for Public Health
The bill includes an additional $242 billion in additional emergency appropriations to fight the virus and shore up for safety net programs. That includes money for food stamps, child nutrition, hospitals, the Centers for Disease Control and public health and transportation agencies. The figure has gone significantly higher during talks over the weekend.
The measure includes $15.6 billion to augment the food stamp program, which helps feed around 40 million low-income people per year. Its annual budget is around $70 billion. A bipartisan package is likely to provide far more.
Big Company Loans
Arguably the most controversial aspect of the proposal, the initial GOP plan called for $208 billion in loans to larger businesses like airlines, which would have to be repaid, and a subsequent; a version released over the weekend called for $500 billion.
Leaders are still negotiating the final number and how the money would be provided by the administration and safeguards to prevent abuses. It delays payroll tax payments by employers, which would be able to defer payment of their 2020 payroll taxes until 2021 and 2022.
With the specter of the 2008 government bailouts still looming, Democrats say the deal provides too much support for big companies with little oversight and not enough for working Americans. House Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., also wants new collective bargaining powers for unions, higher fuel emissions standards for airlines, and expanded wind and solar tax credits.
Many Democrats had complained that the draft aid package did not go far enough to provide health care and unemployment aid for Americans, and failed to put restraints on a proposed $500 billion “slush fund” for corporations, saying the ban on corporate stock buy-backs are weak and the limits on executive pay would last only two years.
Republicans are accusing Democrats of using the coronavirus pandemic as an opportunity to push unrelated political agendas, with McConnell accusing Democrats of trying to extract concessions from airlines over their “carbon footprint,” with the economy hanging in the balance.
“They ought to be embarrassed,” he said. “This is no time for this nonsense.”
Schumer countered that they were dealt an exclusively Republican-authored bill.
“We Democrats are trying to get things done, not making partisan speech after partisan speech,” he said.
Fox News’ Ronn Blitzer and The Associated Press contributed to this report.