Shortly after 1:00 a.m. Wednesday, Senate leaders and White House officials announced that a $2-trillion deal had been reached to provide economic relief in response to the coronavirus epidemic.
Final legislative text has not yet been released, but the broad outlines of the bill include the following:
Direct cash payments would equal $1,200 for each individual adult plus an additional $500 per child. The payments are based on 2020 earnings and gradually phase out for individuals earning between $75,000 and $99,000 and married couples earning between $150,000 and $198,000. In other words, those earning above the thresholds will owe some or all of the check back to the government next tax year.
The bill provides $367 billion in forgivable loans this year to small employers (those with fewer than 500 employees). “The amount of the loan eligible for forgiveness will be reduced proportionally by the number of employees laid off during this period relative to the borrower’s prior employment levels,” according to a background document that Senator Rubio’s office produced earlier this week.
The bill’s $500 billion loan program for larger companies would have the oversight of an inspector general and a five-member congressional panel.
For Americans who are furloughed or laid off, the bill also increases unemployment benefits. In a letter to his Democratic colleagues, minority leader Chuck Schumer writes that the deal increases “the maximum unemployment benefit by $600 per week and ensures that laid-off workers, on average, will receive their full pay for four months. It ensures that all workers are protected whether they work for businesses small, medium or large, along with self-employed and workers in the gig economy.”
Schumer also touted the fact that the bill includes $150 billion for state and local governments and prohibits “businesses controlled by the President, Vice President, Members of Congress, and heads of Executive Departments from receiving loans or investments from Treasury programs.”
Politico reports that the bill text had not been finalized by late Wednesday morning, but Senate leaders indicated they would push forward with a vote as early as Wednesday afternoon.