In the early hours of March 25, the Senate and White House reached a landmark deal on a $2 trillion relief package for millions of Americans and businesses hurt by the coronavirus pandemic. The bargain, agreed to after days of nonstop negotiations, paves the way for the largest aid package in U.S. history. Lawmakers were still negotiating details midweek, but expected to vote the bill into law within days. “This is a wartime level of investment into our nation,” said Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell after announcing the deal.
Here are six key provisions:
Direct Payments to Americans
American taxpayers earning up to $75,000 will receive $1,200, and couples earning up to $150,000 will receive $2,400. Beyond those amounts, payments will decrease for individuals earning up to $99,000 and couples earning $198,000. Congressional aides said details were still coming together, but that every child in single- and two-parent households earning less than $198,000 will also receive a $500 payment. It is unclear when the payments will start.
Expanded Unemployment insurance
The government will provide people who are unemployed with a $600 weekly stipend for up to four months, on top of benefits already provided by states. These payments will go to people who have been laid off or furloughed, and to out-of-work members of the gig economy.
$150 billion For Health care
The deal allots $150 billion for the health care system and hospitals, which have been sounding the alarm that they will soon exceed capacity and are already running low on critical supplies; $100 billion will go directly to hospitals, and the additional funds will go toward supplies, medical research and workforce increases.
Loans to Small Businesses
Lawmakers say they are allocating at least $360 billion to help small businesses and nonprofits. Much of that will go to businesses to pay workers, mortgage interest and rent. Pennsylvania Senator Pat Toomey said businesses of up to 500 employees are eligible for this assistance.
Loans to State Governments and Industries
The Treasury Department will create a fund worth $500 billion or more to assist local and state governments and industries hit by the pandemic. According to Toomey, the Treasury will also make $46 billion in direct financial assistance, including $25 billion to airlines, $17 billion for national security and $4 billion for cargo.
Oversight of Corporate Use of Funds
Democrats fought for stringent oversight of the Treasury fund, arguing that Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin could personally benefit from the funds without anyone knowing. The GOP agreed to appoint an inspector general to oversee the fund, and any businesses controlled by Trump, Pence, Mnuchin, or heads of executive departments or their spouses, in-laws or offspring are barred from receiving loans.