In the predawn hours, U.S. Senators struck a deal to try to salvage the economy from the novel coronavirus. The enormous $2 trillion package is designed to protect workers, families and businesses from the costly effects of needing to shut down businesses to protect communal health.
Marathon negotiations led to the agreement, which dwarfs the $800 billion stimulus passed during the 2008 financial crisis. This new stimulus bill is one of the most expensive and far-reaching in American history, according to The New York Times.
“This is not a moment of celebration — but of necessity,” said Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, as CNN reported.
The agreement will send money directly to most Americans. Under the plan, $250 billion will be 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, according to CNN.
The bill will send $1,200 to most Americans and $2,400 to married couples earning less than $150,000. It will also provide $500 for each child. The payments will scale down by income, phasing out entirely for individuals who make more than $99,000 and joint filers without children earning over $198,000, as CNN reported.
The bill will also help people who have lost their jobs due to the novel coronavirus. As The Washington Post reported, unemployment claims have spiked, inundating a system ill-equipped to handle a deluge of applicants. The stimulus package will increase unemployment insurance benefits, expand eligibility and offer workers an additional $600 a week for four months on top of what state unemployment programs currently pay.
“It will put money into the hands of those who need it so much, because they have lost their jobs through no fault of their own,” said Schumer, as the Los Angeles Times reported.
“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,” said Larry Kudlow, President Donald Trump’s chief economic adviser, at a White House briefing on Tuesday, as CNN reported.
One of the sticking points that torpedoed the previous stimulus package was the $500 billion that will be allotted for distressed companies. Under the previous bill, the Treasury had the discretion to disburse the funds without needing to disclose for up to six months which companies got taxpayer dollars, as the Los Angeles Times reported.
The new bill, which will still provide payments to many large polluters, with 10 percent of it going to airlines, will now have oversight for how the money is allotted, according to CNN. The Trump administration agreed to an oversight board and the creation of an inspector general position to review how the money is spent.
“Every loan document will be public and made available to Congress very quickly, so we can see where the money is going, what the terms are and if it’s fair to the American people,” Schumer said on the Senate floor Wednesday, according to The Washington Post.
The bill is expected to pass the Senate around noon and then has to go to the House, which is not in session. Some House Democrats have already expressed reservations about it.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) tweeted that despite “vague statements,” no one had seen text of the legislation that “seems to give a *HALF TRILLION DOLLARS* away to big corporations, w/ few worker protections.”
The developments of this Senate relief bill are concerning.— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) March 24, 2020
We are hearing lots of vague statements, but not a single member of Congress has seen actual bill text.
It seems to give a *HALF TRILLION DOLLARS* away to big corporations, w/ few worker protections.
Half a trillion.