WASHINGTON – The Senate on Wednesday approved a massive resuscitation law to help families and businesses damaged by the coronavirus epidemic.
The bill is now being moved to the House, which is expected to vote on the measure Friday morning and then send it to President Donald Trump for signature. This is the third – and by far the most expensive – package congress has assembled to match the coronavirus.
“This is a wartime investment in the nation,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. “The battle has come to our shores. We didn’t look for it. We didn’t want it. But now we win it. “
Here are some of the highlights of the historic relief package.
Help for families
The bill would offer direct grants of up to $ 1,200 for most individuals and $ 2,400 for most married couples who would leave together an extra $ 500 for each child.
Help is beginning to be phased out for individuals earning more than $ 75,000 and for couples earning more than $ 150,000.
Unemployment insurance coverage would be extended, raising the maximum benefit by $ 600 a week for up to four months. Benefits are available to employees who are part-time, self-employed, or part of the gig industry. People who are still unemployed after the end of state benefits can receive additional assistance for 13 weeks.
Food aid programs would gain momentum, as well as programs to help low-income households avoid evictions and a program to improve Internet use in rural areas.
Homeowners with federal-guaranteed home loans would be protected from foreclosure for as long as 180 days.
With federal loans, students can suspend payments until October.
Students receiving Pell scholarships who have to be suspended due to coronavirus are not penalized.
Help for small businesses
The bill would give small businesses access to a nearly $ 350 billion loan program to cover monthly expenses such as payroll, rent, and utility programs. Loans do not need to be repaid if companies retain their workforce.
Eight weeks of support would be retroactive on February 15, 2020 to help with the return of workers who have already been laid off.
Help for businesses
The package includes a financial rescue line for the hardest hit sectors, including passenger and freight airlines. Another bank of money would be available to help other companies with a total of $ 500 billion.
Beneficiary companies would not have the opportunity to increase the salaries of certain managers.
All companies receiving a government loan would be prohibited from buying back shares while also receiving assistance for an additional year.
Companies controlled by the President, Vice-President, members of Congress, and heads of federal agencies are not eligible for credit.
Companies that retain employees despite a significant loss of income may qualify for a tax credit.
The law provides other tax reliefs for businesses by deferring tax payments, increasing the deductibility of interest charges and allowing the immediate cost of qualifying property improvements, especially for hospitality.
Help for health care providers
Hospitals and health centers would make billions to deal with rising cases.
Hospitals treating coronavirus patients would also receive higher reimbursements from Medicare.
Hospitals may request accelerated payments from Medicare.
The medical cuts included in the previous deficit reduction agreement will be temporarily suspended.
Additional funding from the Department of Defense includes money to send the National Guard and use the Defense Equipment Act to help speed up the production of medical supplies to fight the coronavirus.
Rules on access to and payment for telehealth services would be made easier.
The funding would further accelerate the treatment of federal agencies and the treatment of a possible coronavirus vaccine, including.
Once a vaccine is available, Medicare beneficiaries do not have to pay to receive it.
Assistance to state and local government
The package includes $ 150 billion to help state and local governments, which have had significant unforeseen costs and lost revenue. States would receive a minimum amount and other funds would be allocated through a population-based formula.
Disaster relief funding that can be accessed by the state and municipalities, as well as the popular local government funding program, could also be increased.
Childcare programs would receive an increase in funding to help meet the needs of first aid staff so that healthcare workers and other critical workers receive childcare.
States that have postponed initial emissions would receive additional funds to increase voting security, such as expanding early voting and voting by mail.
Public transport agencies that have lost their competition receive $ 25 billion in aid. Airports and Amtrak would also receive billions of dollars in assistance.
Schools and colleges could spend nearly $ 31 billion to continue teaching students when schools are closed.
State and local police and fire brigades could get help for overtime and medical supplies such as personal protective equipment.
The deadline for States to meet the requirements for the correct identification of enhanced driving licenses is extended annually, not earlier than October 2021.
Help for the arts
Museums, libraries and arts organizations that have closed down due to the pandemic may be eligible for grants from governmental arts and humanitarian organizations.
The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, which has been closed for May, would receive $ 25 million to reopen its doors when the crisis is over.
The Smithsonian Institute receives $ 7.5 million for telework, deep cleaning, and overtime for safety, medical staff, and zoo keepers.
Attendees: Nicholas Wu and Christal Hayes, USA TODAY.