WASHINGTON – Senate leaders announced Wednesday they reached agreement on a massive stimulus bill to help families and businesses hurt by the coronavirus epidemic.
The language is still being finalized on the roughly $2 trillion package lawmakers hope to quickly pass and send to President Donald Trump. This is the third – and by far the most expensive – package Congress has put together to address the coronavirus.
“This is a wartime level of investment into our nation,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. “A fight has arrived on our shores. We did not seek it. We did not want it. But now, we are going to win it.”
Here are some of the major components of the historic relief package.
Help for families
- The bill would provide direct payments of up to $1,200 for most individuals and $2,400 for most married couples filing jointly with an extra $500 for each child.
- Assistance would start to phase out for individuals earning more than $75,000 and for couples with more than $150,000 in income.
- Unemployment insurance benefits would be expanded, increasing the maximum benefit by $600 a week for up to four months. Benefits would be available to workers who are part-time, self-employed or part of the gig economy. People who are still unemployed after state benefits end could get an additional 13 weeks of help.
- Food assistance programs would get a boost as would program to help low-income households avoid eviction and a program to improve internet access in rural areas.
- Homeowners with federally-backed mortgages would be protected from foreclosures for as long as 180 days.
- Students with federal loans could suspend payments until October.
- Students receiving Pell grants who have to drop out because of coronavirus would not be penalized.
Help for small businesses
- The bill would give small businesses access to a nearly $350 billion loan program to cover monthly expenses like payroll, rent, and utilities. The loans would not have to be repaid if businesses maintained their workforce.
- The eight weeks of assistance would be retroactive to Feb. 15, 2020, to help bring back workers who have already been laid off.
Help for corporations
- The package includes a financial lifeline to the hardest-hit industries, including passenger and cargo airlines. Another pot of money would be available to help other businesses for a combined $500 billion.
- Companies receiving assistance would be barred from raising the pay of certain executives.
- Any company receiving a government loan would be prohibited from buying back stocks while getting assistance as well for an additional year.
- Businesses controlled by the president, vice president, members of Congress and heads of federal agencies are not eligible for loans.
- Companies that kept on workers despite a significant loss of revenue could get a tax credit.
- The bill provides other tax relief to businesses by deferring tax payments, increasing deductibility for interest expenses and allowing immediate expensing of qualified property improvements, especially for the hospitality industry. read more also read 50,000 U.S. citizens still stuck overseas because of coronavirus