On Wednesday, March 25, 2020, Senate and White House leaders agreed on a major deal over a $2 trillion package providing stimulus to an economy struggling amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“Ladies and gentlemen, we are done. We have a deal,” stated White House legislative affairs director Eric Ueland just before 1 a.m. ET on Wednesday.
Mitch McConnell formally announced the agreement on the Senate floor, “At last, we have a deal. After days of intense discussions, the Senate has reached a bipartisan agreement on a historic relief package for this pandemic.”
What Does the Relief Package Mean for Americans?
The complete details have not yet been released. However, some elements of the proposal are known. According to Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, the stimulus package blocks President Donald J. Trump, his family, and other top government officials, including members of Congress, from receiving loans or investments from Treasury programs in the stimulus.
The stimulus package will deliver a massive infusion of financial aid into a struggling economy that has been hit hard with job loss. This package provides in a way that will help Americans, small businesses, and major industries that have been impacted negatively by the coronavirus pandemic.
Larry Kudlow, Trump’s chief economic adviser stated: “This legislation is urgently needed to bolster the economy, provide cash injections and liquidity and stabilize financial markets to get us through a difficult and challenging period in the economy facing us right now.”
Who Will Recieve Direct Payments?
It was determined by the Senate that individuals who earn up to $75,000 in adjusted gross income would receive direct payments of $1,200 each. Married couples who earn up to $150,000 will gain $2,400 plus and additional $500 per child. The payment would scale down by income, to phase out entirely for those who make $99,000 for individuals and $198,000 per couple. Income will be based on last year’s taxes.
Low income and no income individuals and families will not receive any money from the economic stimulus package.
Senators have been debating over parts of the stimulus package for days. There was an intense bipartisan debate over the $500 billion proposal that would provide loans to companies that are distressed due to the coronavirus, and $50 billion in loans to passenger air carriers. Democrats stated there was not enough oversight on how the money would be spread out, however, the Trump administration agreed to an oversight board and an inspector general position who would review how the money is spent.
Additionally, negotiators discussed providing unemployment benefits for four months that would include self-employed workers. The bill would also ensure the Small Business Administration would serve as a guarantor for loans of up to $10 million. This would guarantee small businesses would be able to maintain the payrolls and pay off debts.
The economic stimulus bill would also provide $130 billion for hard-hit hospitals. States and local governments that are tight on cash due to their response to the coronavirus pandemic would receive a combined total of $150 billion.
One of the arguments that held up the passing of the stimulus bill was Democrats wanted more safeguards for American workers. Nancy Pelosi told CNN on Tuesday that “many of the provisions in there have been greatly improved because of negotiation.” Schumer stated the economic stimulus package will have “unemployment benefits on steroids.”
What Happens Now?
McConnell praised the deal saying, “We are close to a bill that takes our bold Republican framework, integrates further ideas from both parties and delivers huge progress.”
Once the official details of the economic stimulus package are released, people will need to know how quickly it can be approved. This seems like a daunting challenge as Congress is now operating in a scenario where several members have tested positive for the coronavirus and many more have quarantined themselves because they were in contact with those members of Congress.
One option is for the House to vote on the stimulus deal by voice vote instead of a recorded roll call vote.
According to a source on the GOP whip team, House Republicans will agree to the Senate stimulus plan to allow for its quick passage.
Pelosi has called for the stimulus package to be approved by unanimous consent, however, sources believe “it’s a very real possibility” a member of Congress would object and the bill would not pass.
It appears that the best option is for lawmakers to use voice vote to approve the stimulus bill. They are eager to avoid a recorded roll call vote due to the coronavirus pandemic, but it may be requested by Congressmen.
By Jeanette Vietti
CNN: White House, Senate reach history $2 trillion stimulus deal amid growing coronavirus fears
The New York Times: Congress and White House Strike Deal for $2 Trillion Stimulus Package
The Washington Post: Senate to vote Wednesday on $2 trillion coronavirus bill after landmark agreement with White House
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