White House and Senate agree on $2 trillion relief bill
Updated: Apr 7, 2020
The White House and Senate leaders from both political parties announced that they had come to an agreement on Wednesday regarding an expansive $2 trillion spending bill aimed at providing relief to businesses and individuals affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
The spending bill is by far the largest economic relief bill in U.S. history, amounting to more than double the bill signed into law by President Obama following the 2008 financial crisis which amounted to $800 billion.
Despite the fact that leaders in the Senate and the White House have reached an agreement, the bill has several hurdles to clear before it becomes law. Some politicians in both parties may oppose certain aspects of the bill, and lawmakers are scattered across the country, some of whom tested positive for the coronavirus and are in self-isolation.
“After days of intense discussions, the Senate has reached a bipartisan agreement on a historic relief package for this pandemic,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. “It will rush new resources onto the front lines of our nation’s health care fight. And it will inject trillions of dollars of cash into the economy as fast as possible to help Americans workers, families, small businesses and industries make it through this disruption and emerge on the other side ready to soar.”
The bill is the third of a three-part approach taken by Congress to address the coronavirus. The first phase amounted to an $8.3 billion bill that provided extra funding for federal agencies dealing with the crisis directly and provided subsidies for virus testing.
The second phase is estimated to cost $100 billion and it provided free virus testing for the uninsured, subsidized paid sick leave, increased funding for federal programs such as Medicaid, and increased unemployment benefits.
The final and third phase, which lawmakers are hoping to pass quickly after reaching this agreement, is more than 500 pages and contains $2 trillion of spending, including:
a $367 billion program for small businesses struggling to make payroll
a $500 billion fund for guaranteed, subsidized loans to larger industries
one-time payments to Americans up to $1,200 per adult and $500 per child
an employee retention tax credit that will provide funding for companies that retain employees and cover 50% of their paychecks, and give them the ability to defer paying the employer portion of the Social Security payroll tax
$100 billion in assistance for hospitals
$150 billion for local and state governments
a significant increase in unemployment insurance benefits and widening the range of who qualifies to include gig economy workers and the self-employed
The spending from Congress coincides with the Federal Reserve's unprecedented actions to boost the economy, including purchases of corporate bonds and directly providing low-interest loans to businesses.
The novel coronavirus has spread rapidly in the United States, which now has over 61,000 confirmed cases. 849 people have died from the virus in the U.S. according to Johns Hopkins University.