What’s in the coronavirus stimulus bill: Checks to Americans and more

Darnell Taylor
March 25, 2020

The White House and Senate leaders have finally agreed to a sweeping $2 trillion stimulus package for the USA economy as the country grapples with the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.

President Donald Trump earlier Tuesday said Mnuchin and others of his administration had been working on the bill that he'd hoped would pass.

The deal aims to buttress the faltering economy by giving roughly $2 trillion to health facilities, businesses and ordinary Americans buckling under the strain of the coronavirus pandemic.

"This is a wartime level of investment into our nation", Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said on the Senate floor after the two sides had reached a deal.

They said passage of the legislation was expected in the Republican-led Senate by the end of the day. The proposal would bar businesses controlled by the president, vice president, members of Congress and heads of executive branch departments from receiving loans or grants from the Treasury programs. The gargantuan $2 trillion package contains provisions for everything from individual payments to many Americans to health care funding to expanded unemployment benefits and, very importantly, loans for businesses.

The unemployed: The program's extended unemployment insurance program - "unemployment on steroids", as Chuck Schumer calls it - ensures laid-off workers, on average, will receive their full pay for four months.

The bill will also invest almost $150 billion into the already strained health care system and another $150 billion dollars to state and local governments to assist with costs related to the coronavirus.

$2 trillion coronavirus stimulus package is the rare legislative agreement that will have an immediate - and lasting - impact on ordinary citizens around the country.

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The Senate bill does not require the Federal Reserve to purchase municipal bonds, but Emily Brock of the Government Finance Officers Association has said that Fed officials provided assurances they intend "to normalize our space".

The package will also include a lot of transparency for these loans and bailouts.

Another $250 billion will be used to bolster unemployment benefits.

An exact timing on a vote for the bill has not yet been announced by the Senate.

As part of the deal, airlines will be prohibited from stock buybacks and CEO bonuses, Schumer wrote in a letter Wednesday to Democratic senators. This agreement to provide relief to American workers, families, and small businesses is critically important - and should be considered without delay. Companies also would be able to defer payment of the 6.2 percent Social Security payroll tax.

Of course, amendments on the floor of the US Senate are possible, as are further amendments by the US House of Representatives. The Treasury Department would have to disclose the terms of loans or other aid to companies and a new Treasury inspector general would oversee the lending program.

Hospitals, which are on the front lines of a wave of new patients that have already strained resources, would get more than $130 billion, while states and local governments would get $150 billion to help cover expenses incurred by the response to the pandemic.

An initial US$8 billion plan passed by Congress March 5 is funding emergency health care needs stemming from the coronavirus, and a second plan enacted last week will provide many Americans with paid sick leave, food assistance and free coronavirus testing.

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