Lawmakers on Capitol Hill are putting the finishing touches on a $2 trillion aid package, the latest in response to the coronavirus outbreak.
The bill is the largest economic recovery bill in the nation’s history, far outpacing the stimulus plans passed by Congress around the 2008 recession.
So what all is in the plan? Here are some of the highlights, according to a summary of key points provided by the office of Rep. GK Butterfield, D-1st District:
- Direct payments to Americans: Under the proposal, adults making up to $75,000 get a one-time $1,200 payment (married couples making up to $150,000 receive $2,400). The size of the payment phases out for individuals with an income above $75,000, eventually zeroing out for those earning more than $99,000. Families would get an additional $500 per child. More details can be found here, courtesy of the Senate Finance Committee.
- Unemployment Insurance: The plan boosts unemployment benefits, including extending them to independent contractors and gig workers.
- Aid for Business: It puts roughly $350 billion toward helping small businesses and designates $500 billion for loans for larger corporations. The bill bans companies receiving the loans from doing stock buy-backs.
- Hospitals: It puts more than $100 billion toward hospitals and health centers.
In an interview, Butterfield says he intends to support the bill, provided it gets to the U.S. House for a vote.
“This investment is going to bring us back in America and we’re going to be able to get back on solid ground in just a few weeks, I do believe,” he said.
The apparent deal comes after days of intense and at times bumpy negotiations. Among other things, Democrats pushed for increased oversight of the aid for corporations and large industry.
Rep. Mark Walker, R-6th District, said he plans to vote for the bill, expressing optimism it will help small businesses.
At the same time, he raised concerns about how the negotiations panned out, arguing Democratic leaders tried to jam unrelated things into the plan.
“The delay was more damaging than any small improvements or adjustments made to the bill. This was histrionics at its worst,” he said. “We'll come back to this at some point and talk about what that delay has cost in places like New York, Washington, Illinois, and many other places.”
One of the big unknowns that remains: a timeline of when the bill could land on the president’s desk.
Provided the Senate passes it, the House then has to approve it. Most House members are home.
The body could use a procedure called "unanimous consent" to approve the bill without everyone having to return to the nation’s capital, but there is a chance that a lawmaker will call for a recorded vote.
Congress has already approved two previous measures aimed at combatting the coronavirus. The first focused on providing funding to help with vaccine research, while the second boosted safety net programs like SNAP and unemployment insurance.