The White House and the Senate reached an agreement on a coronavirus relief bill on Wednesday morning, scheduling a formal vote later in the day.
Axios reports White House legislative affairs director Eric Ueland announced a deal between the White House with both Republicans and Democrats in the Senate just past midnight on Wednesday morning.
“Ladies and gentlemen, we are done. We have a deal,” he told a group of reporters.
“At last, we have a deal,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell echoed, via the Hill. “The Senate has reached a bipartisan agreement.”
The $2 trillion stimulis intends to spur the economy by injecting much-needed money into various sectors including “$500 billion for a major corporate liquidity program through the Federal Reserve, $367 billion for a small business loan program, $100 billion for hospitals and $150 billion for state and local governments,” the report adds.
And, “It will also give a one-time check of $1,200 to Americans who make up to $75,000. Individuals with no or little tax liability would receive the same amount, unlike the initial GOP proposal that would have given them a minimum of $600.”
As BizPac Review reports, McConnell described the legislation as a “wartime level of investment into our nation.”
“The men and women of the greatest country on Earth are going to defeat this coronavirus and reclaim our future,” the majority leader continued. “The Senate’s going to make sure they have the ammunition they need to do it.”
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“I’m not sure how many ways to say it, but the clock has run out,” he added in his remarks, expressing urgency that Congress quickly acts to pass it. “The buzzer is sounding. The hour for bargaining as though this were business as usual, has expired. The American people need our Democratic friends to take yes for an answer.”
— Dan Scavino Jr.🇺🇸 (@Scavino45) March 25, 2020
Despite the agreement, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer cautioned the proposal could face some roadblocks before it is signed into law.
Schumer, who called the legislation “the largest rescue package in American history,” also described it as “far from perfect.”
“We believe the legislation has been improved significantly to warrant its quick consideration and passage,” he added.
The Hill reports:
The final talks were conducted among McConnell, Schumer, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, White House legislative affairs director Eric Ueland and incoming White House chief of staff Mark Meadows.
Schumer kept in close touch throughout the process with Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who introduced her own $2.5 trillion bill Monday.
“At last, we have a deal,”
Senate comes to agreement on relief package after Democrats blocked the deal twice.
— Washington Examiner (@dcexaminer) March 25, 2020
Another potential roadblock the legislation could face is House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who is being encouraged by President Trump to bring it to a vote as-is.
“This is a very important bipartisan legislation that is going to be very important to help American workers, American business,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said per the Hill. “We couldn’t be more pleased. Spoken to the president many times today, he’s very pleased with this legislation and the impact this is going to have.”
Asked by a reporter whether or not President Trump would sign it in its current form, he responded: “Absolutely.”
But Pelosi, or any member of Congress, could delay its passing, BizPac Review reports:
Not that Pelosi is the only one who can ruin the plan — the speaker will reportedly try to pass the measure on unanimous consent if she’s in agreement, and a single member can prevent this.
Which is where Rep. Justin Amash, I-Mich., could come into play. The libertarian-minded lawmaker left the Republican Party recently and opportunities to be relevant are few and far between.
“This bipartisan deal is a raw deal for the people,” Amash tweeted. “It does far too little for those who need the most help, while providing hundreds of billions in corporate welfare, massively growing government, inhibiting economic adaptation, and widening the gap between the rich and the poor.”
This bipartisan deal is a raw deal for the people. It does far too little for those who need the most help, while providing hundreds of billions in corporate welfare, massively growing government, inhibiting economic adaptation, and widening the gap between the rich and the poor.
— Justin Amash (@justinamash) March 25, 2020
According to Axios, much of the agreement’s details were discussed and negotiated in secret and are not yet known to the public—though some details have been shared:
Here’s what is expected to be in the final bill, though specifics are subject to change because its final text has yet to be distributed:
Direct payments: The bill would distribute up to $1,200 to Americans in the form of a one-time direct deposit, $2,400 for couples, and $3,000 for family of four. The payments will be phased out based on income levels.
Small businesses will get $367 billion to keep making payroll while workers have to stay home. “Companies with 500 or fewer employees could tap up to $10 million each in forgivable small business loans to keep paychecks flowing,” the AP notes.
Federally guaranteed loans will provide eight weeks of assistance for qualifying employers who maintain payroll. Those who meet requirements would have costs such as utilities, mortgage interest and rent forgiven.
Unemployment benefits: $600 per week would be added to normal state benefits for up to four months with an extra 13 weeks of benefits — adding up to 39 weeks of regular unemployment insurance “through the end of 2020.” The coverage would be effective Jan. 27. The deal extends to gig economy workers, Axios’ Kia Kokalitcheva notes.
Health care and social services: $242 billion would be set aside “in additional emergency appropriations to fight the virus and shore up for safety net programs,” per the AP. It’ll fund public health providers including hospitals, the CDC, child nutrition programs, food stamps and transportation agencies.
Industry: The final number for big businesses like airlines is still up in the air, but Republicans are seeking $500 billion in loans. Provisions against potential employer abuses are also still subject to negotiations.
Payroll taxes: The measure enables individuals to defer payment of their 2020 payroll taxes until 2021 and 2022.
States and local governments will get $150 billion, with $8 billion set aside for tribal governments.