Top-level negotiations between congress and the White House churned into the night Sunday, March 22 over a now nearly $2 trillion economic rescue package, as the coronavirus crisis deepened, the nation shut down and the first U.S. senator tested positive for the disease.
As President Donald Trump took to the podium in the White House briefing room and promised to help Americans who feel afraid and isolated as the pandemic spreads, the Senate voted against advancing the rescue package. But talks continued on Capitol Hill.
“I think you’ll get there. To me it’s not very complicated: we have to help the worker. We have to save the companies,” Trump said. “We’re enduring a great national trial and we will prove that we can meet the moment. We’re at war.”
Inside the otherwise emptied out Capitol, the draft aid bill was declared insufficient y Democrats, who argued it was tilted toward corporations and did too little to help workers and health care providers. Republicans returned to the negotiating table.
With a population on edge and shell-shocked financial markets poised for the new work week, Washington labored under the size and scope of the rescue package that’s more ambitious than any in recent times — larger than the 2008 bank bailout and 2009 recovery act combined.
A snapshot of the emerging rescue package in congress to provide healthcare and economic aid amid the coronavirus outbreak and national shutdown.
The details are subject to change as congressional leaders and the White House continue negotiating the nearly $2 trillion package. The highlights so far:
ONE-TIME CHECKS TO AMERICANS
The measure would provide a quick, one-time stipend of about $1,200 per individual, $2,400 for couples, and $3,000 for family of four. The money would cut off at higher income levels.
An estimated $350 billion would be provided for small businesses to keep making payroll. Companies with 500 or fewer employees could tap up to $10 million each in forgivable small business loans to keep paychecks flowing.
Workers who are eligible would receive up to 39 weeks of unemployment insurance through the end of 2020 if they are sidelined by the outbreak. The coverage would be retroactive to Jan. 27.
EMERGENCY FUNDING, PUBLIC HEALTH
The bill includes an additional $242 billion in additional emergency funds to fight the virus and shore up for safety net programs. That includes money for food stamps, child nutrition, hospitals, the Centers for Disease Control and public health and transportation agencies.
The measure includes $15.6 billion to augment the food stamp program, which helps feed around 40 million Low income people per year. It’s annual budget is around $70 billion.
The initial GOP plan called for $208 billion in loans to airlines and other industries, which would have to be repaid. Leaders are still negotiating the final number and how the money would be provided by the administration.
Negotiators are still hammering out whether there will be money give to the states, whose governors have requested billions to shore up their budgets.