By Patrick Formato, Barbara Phair, Frank Mazzagatti and Jonathan Rogoff
The Senate on Wednesday approved a historic, $2 trillion stimulus package to provide a jolt to an economy suffering from the coronavirus pandemic. The legislation represents the largest emergency aid package in US history and the most significant legislative action taken to address the rapidly intensifying coronavirus crisis, which is overwhelming hospitals and grinding much of the economy to a halt.
It will next go to the House for a vote tomorrow morning.The Bill is expected to pass in the House and President Donald Trump has indicated he will sign the measure.
Stimulus Package Breakdown
The elements of the proposal have now come into sharper focus, with $250 billion set aside 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.
Under the plan, individuals who earn $75,000 in adjusted gross income or less would get direct payments of $1,200 each, with married couples earning up to $150,000 receiving $2,400 -- and an additional $500 per each child. The payment would scale down by income, phasing out entirely at $99,000 for singles and $198,000 for couples without children.
It’s unclear how long it will take the Internal Revenue Service to process and calculate each and every payment. The White House has indicated that Americans could be seeing direct payments as soon as April 6.
Small business to receive emergency loans
The legislation creates a $367 billion federally-guaranteed loan program for small businesses who must pledge not to lay off their workers. The loans would be available during an emergency period ending at the end of June and would be forgiven if the employer pays its workers for the duration of the crisis.
The deal also includes $10 billion in Small Business Administration emergency grants and up to $10 million of emergency relief per business. It allocates $17 billion for the SBA to cover six months of payment for small businesses with existing SBA loans. It will offer $30 billion in emergency education funding and $25 billion in emergency transit funding.
Hospitals drowning under crisis to receive aid
The massive package also includes $100 billion in assistance for hospitals and health systems across the nation. The plan offers “billions more” for critical investments into personal and protective equipment for health care workers, testing supplies, increased workforce and training, among other things. Lawmakers also agreed to increase Medicare payment increases to all hospitals and providers.
Expanded unemployment insurance
Lawmakers agreed to a significant expansion of unemployment benefits that would expand unemployment insurance by 13 weeks and include a four-month enhancement of benefits -- an additional $600 per week - on top of what state unemployment programs pay.
In total, unemployed workers are eligible to receive up to 39 weeks of unemployment benefits. The program was expanded to include freelancers, furloughed employees and gig workers, such as Uber drivers. The massive boost in unemployment insurance is expected to cost $250 billion.
REAL ID deadline delayed
The deadline to obtain a REAL ID, federally mandated identification that will be needed for passengers to board aircraft, will be extended until at least September 2021 -- a year past the current deadline, according to a draft version of the Senate stimulus bill obtained by CNN. Before the coronavirus pandemic swept across the US, states were preparing to issue residents "REAL ID-compliant" driver's licenses or identification by the October 1 deadline.
Should you have specific concerns, or questions about the COVID-19 stimulus package, please do not hesitate to call us - Lake Success (516) 328-2300, Brooklyn (718) 215-5300, Manhattan (212) 279-9200, White Plains (914) 607-7010 or Rochester (585) 218-9999.