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Senate to vote on $2 trillion stimulus package

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After a series of failed negotiations, the White House and lawmakers say they have reached a deal for a $2 trillion stimulus bill intended to counteract the devastating financial impact of the coronavirus outbreak in the United States.  

Right now, the Senate is expected to vote on the bill this evening. If the legislation passes the Senate, the House will likely vote on the bill on Thursday. Speaker Nancy Pelosi has voiced her support for the Senate’s version.  

What is in the bill? 

This stimulus bill is the third in a three-part legislative response to the crisis. The legislation is vast. Here are just some of the provisions: 

  • Direct payments to many Americans 

  • $130 billion in funding for hospitals 

  • $500 billion for large businesses 

  • A large temporary expansion of unemployment benefits 

  • Student loan payments suspended without penalty through September 30 

  • Protections against evictions and foreclosures 

The bill prohibits giving loans or investment money from this funding to any business controlled by the president or other high-ranking officials. This stimulus package is the largest of its kind in U.S. history. 

How much could you receive in direct payments? 

As it currently stands, single Americans would receive $1,200 and married couples would receive $2,400. Parents would also get $500 for each child they have under 17. Payments won’t go to everyone, however. These payments would begin to phase out for people who made over $75,000 in gross adjusted income for the 2018 tax year. Those who make over $99,000 wouldn’t qualify for any payments. The income limits for married couples are double those for individuals. 

Support for corporations and small businesses 

The bill sets up a program through the Treasury Department to dole out $500 billion in loans, loan guarantees, and investments. Specific industries will receive some of that money: $25 billion for passenger air carriers, $4 billion for cargo air carriers, $17 billion for businesses that work in national security. The remaining $454 billion will be given as loans to businesses, states, and municipalities.  

There is a specific program for paying out loans to mid-size businesses with 500-10,000 employees as well as nonprofit organizations. In these cases, no loan payments will be due for the first 6 months.  

There are certain restrictions on businesses that accept this money, however. For example, businesses who take the loans cannot issue dividends for up to a year after the loan has been paid off. They must also retain 90% of the employment levels they had as of March 24 until at least September 30. They also aren’t allowed to buy back stock and must accept limits on executive compensation. 

The final agreement also includes an oversight board and special inspector to review lending decisions. 

A bipartisan solution to a national crisis 

New Hampshire Senator Jeanne Shaheen said in a statement about the stimulus bill: 

This moment of crisis demands that Congress take bold action to help these entrepreneurs and their workers. To New Hampshire and the nation’s small businesses, I want to make it clear: help is on the way. While we did not always agree and there are certainly measures I wish we could have included, this agreement is a product of good faith bipartisan negotiations and will provide real relief.” 

Still more work to be done 

Sens. Tim Scott, Lindsey Graham, and Ben Sasse have come out against the bill as it currently stands, saying it contains a "massive drafting error" that would have "devastating consequences." The three senators said in a statement:  

"Unless this bill is fixed, there is a strong incentive for employees to be laid off instead of going to work. ... We must sadly oppose the fast-tracking of this bill until this text is addressed, or the Department of Labor issues regulatory guidance that no American would earn more by not working than by working."  


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