Covid-19 Bill Passes U.S. Senate
The U.S. Senate voted unanimously to pass a $2 trillion stimulus package. The deal is expected to clear the U.S. House of Representatives early Friday morning before being sent to President Donald Trump, who has said he will sign the bill into law immediately.
The signing of the bill in the Senate came after intense negotiations. The bill is said to be one of the most expensive and far-reaching measures passed by Congress. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said Wednesday evening that the House plan is to pass the bill by voice vote, which would avoid forcing all representatives to return to Washington for a recorded roll call vote.
“Members are further advised that due to the limited flight options, members participating in self-quarantine and several states mandating stay-at-home orders,” Hoyer announced in a statement Wednesday evening.
The deal was heavily scrutinized by some Republican senators who argued that language incentivizing unemployment would keep some workers from returning to their jobs because unemployment benefits would pay them more money than they would make working. “This bill pays you more not to work than if you were working,” GOP Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said. “You’re literally incentivizing taking people out of the workforce at a time when we need critical infrastructure supplied with workers.”
The goal of the legislation is to flood the U.S. economy with funds during a period of time that has seen financial systems in chaos, including having several states on lockdown. Numerous businesses have closed and the numbers of infections and deaths from Covid-19 have risen rapidly across the U.S.
Key components of the proposal are $500 billion in loans for distressed companies, $350 billion in small business loans, $250 billion set aside for direct payments to individuals and families, and $250 billion in unemployment insurance benefits. The plan would provide individuals who earn $75,000 in adjusted gross income or less direct payments of $1,200 each. Married couples earning up to $150,000 would receive $2,400. There would also be an additional $500 per child, according to news reports. Payments scale down by income, phasing out entirely at $99,000 for singles and $198,000 for couples without children.
In a press release, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said the bill also contained a provision that would prevent President Trump and his family, as well as other top government officials and members of Congress, from getting loans or investments from Treasury programs in the stimulu