Early Wednesday morning, the White House and leaders from the Senate reached a deal on a historic $2 trillion package to stimulate the struggling U.S. economy amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. The deal comes at a time when many businesses are forced to close or alter their business model to stay afloat.
“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,” says Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
“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,” says the White House’s chief economic advisor Larry Kudlow.
After days of negotiations, the massive investment in the country’s well-being would include $250 billion 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.
The small business loans in particular will help many retail bakeries and other foodservice establishments facing a tough period when in-store dining has been banned in many areas of the country and Americans are staying home to avoid spreading the coronavirus.
According to CNN, the plan as it was negotiated would give direct payments of $1,200 to individuals earning $75,000 in adjusted gross income or less, with married couples earning up to $150,000 receiving $2,400 and an additional $500 per each child. As income rises, payments scale down, phasing out entirely at $99,000 for singles and $198,000 for couples without children.
The plan will also struggling Americans with an extended unemployment program that gives added benefits to laid-off workers, allowing for four months of full pay.
The bill now awaits votes from the Senate and the House, which will likely convene this week. New difficulties have arisen in the last week, as several Congressional members have tested positive for coronavirus and many more have self-quarantined after contact with infected individuals.
The Senate will likely vote on the bill on Wednesday. If passed, it would then head to the House where the next step is less clear.
Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi says she hopes to avoid convening the full House back to Washington, D.C. to vote on the package, opting to pass it through unanimous consent. However, any individual member can block the move, putting into doubt the feasibility of the option.
The House could also choose to approve the package by voice vote as opposed to holding a recorded roll call vote.