U.S. Senate approves $2 trillion coronavirus package that includes relief checks

Senate passes coronavirus rescue package on unanimous vote

The massive legislation passed on a 96-0 vote after days of intense negotiations between Senate Republicans and Democrats, who demanded changes to the Bill introduced last week by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. This means that a lower-income family of two parents and one child would receive $2,900.

The Trump administration struck a deal with Senate Democrats and Republicans on an historic rescue package that tees up more than $2 trillion in spending and tax breaks to bolster the hobbled USA economy and fund a nationwide effort to stem the coronavirus. The payments would decrease for those making more than $75,000, with an income cap of $99,000 per individual or $198,000 for couples.

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.

It's unclear how long it will take the Internal Revenue Service to process and calculate each and every payment.

People who lose their jobs because of the coronavirus will get four months unemployment pay in addition to a government play to send out individual checks to everyone earning under $95,000.

Schumer specifically praised the beefed-up $260 billion unemployment package, calling it "unemployment insurance on steroids" that would provide "a social safety net wide enough to catch the millions of American workers who became unemployed virtually overnight". Additionally, self-employed workers, like Uber drivers, are covered for the first time.

Eric Ueland, the White House legislative affairs director, said after the agreement was reached that the "the president and his team look forward to swift action for urgently needed assistance to the American people and powerful aid to the nation's economy as we work through this crisis".

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.

That included a $260 billion expansion of unemployment benefits and a $377 billion small business rescue plan.

An additional $25 billion is provided for the food stamp program, along with $9.5 billion for the agricultural industry. As a result of the bipartisan talks, however, the program will have inspector-general oversight and frequent Treasury Department reporting to Congress.

The Senate Democrats also added a provision that bans businesses owned by the President, Vice President, members of Congress and the heads of the executive branch from receiving loans or investments through that fund.

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.

As part of the deal, airlines will be prohibited from stock buybacks and CEO bonuses, Schumer wrote in a letter Wednesday to Democratic senators. He said it would bolster the unemployment insurance system so states can match the missing salary of low-income workers, and give others enough to "be able to put food on the table, maybe make the rent, maybe make the auto payment during this period". Hospitals would receive $130 billion, and state and local governments would get $150 billion in assistance.

Lawmakers also agreed to increase Medicare payment increases to all hospitals and providers, Schumer said.



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