U.S. House passes COVID stimulus package

Bill goes to President for signature

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WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. House voted Friday to approve the $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus package.  The bill next will go to the President for his signature.

The Senate voted Wednesday to pass the legislation, but not before some Republicans balked, saying parts of the bill involving expanded unemployment insurance would encourage recipients to not return to work.  They said some workers stood to receive more in unemployment than they earned on the job.

Members of the Senate finally voted in the late evening, 96-0 to approve the package.  Four senators were absent from the session.  Senator John Thune-(R), of South Dakota left earlier to go home and self-quarantine after reporting he felt ill.

A summary of the bill

Workers, hospitals, industry as well as state and local governments would receive help from the federal government if legislators pass the bill, according to major news outlets.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and White House Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin met six times on Monday, working until the early hours on Tuesday to formulate a deal. In a statement, Schumer said he was pleased with the result.

One of the major sticking points between Republicans and Democrats was insistence by Democrats that there be oversight of money going to large corporations.  Democrats also wanted federal help for unemployment insurance benefit programs.

 The final bill contains Republican and Democratic proposals, including $500 billion in federal funding for big businesses and municipalities hit hard by the coronavirus outbreak, as well as a direct one-time cash payment to Americans plus four months of expanded unemployment insurance.

Tuesday afternoon, Democratic leaders and Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell reached an agreement. 

The bill still must pass the House, where Democrats have discussed passing the bill by unanimous consent in order to expedite the bill’s passage and to protect members by keeping them at their home.

The package includes:

• A $500 billion loan program for businesses

The bill includes language that will prevent members of congress and businesses owned by the Trump family from receiving any of the stimulus money, The Guardian reported.

• Increase in unemployment insurance by up to $600 per week for four months.  The money is in addition to the amount states pay as base unemployment

• $150 billion for hospitals treating coronavirus patients. 

• Increased aid to state and local governments 

• Direct payments to adults would include one-time $1,200 checks sent to most adults making $75,000 or less annually, based on past tax returns. A $500 payment also would be sent to cover every child in qualifying households. 

• Loans to small businesses would include $367 billion in the bill aimed at providing loans for small businesses, according to Vox.

• For Social Security recipients, as long as those individuals have at least “$2,500 of qualifying income,” the proposal maintained they’d be eligible for some level of stimulus check, around $600 for single taxpayers and $1,200 for married taxpayers.

The stimulus checks will not be taxed as income.