fbpx

U.S. Senate passes relief bill to send cash to Americans, boost unemployment benefits

United States Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R – Kentucky).

WASHINGTON D.C. – It still requires approval by the U.S. House of Representatives, but the U.S. Senate last night unanimously approved a bill to stimulate and stabilize the United States’ economy with an injection of more than $2 trillion in a massive spending package. The funding will be distributed through a sweeping plan designed to provide cash to individual Americans, a big boost to unemployment programs, funds to help small businesses keep workers on payroll and loans to corporations with restrictions and strict oversight.

While President Trump has already said he is ready to sign the bill, the package still needs to be approved by the U.S. House of Representatives. That that is not a guarantee if Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s previous obstruction is repeated, but the stimulus package looks to be on track for passage by the end of the week.

Americans who earn less than $75,000 as individuals or $150,000 as a couple can expect to see payments of $1,200 for an individual or $2,400 for couples. The package also provides for $500 payments for each child in the household.

The payments to individual Americans would phase out for those earning above $75k individually or $150k as a couple. Those earning more than $99k individually or $198k per year as a couple would receive no payments.

Unemployment for workers impacted by the pandemic will be boosted by a provision that adds $600 per week to their unemployment benefits for up to four months. Benefits will also be available to workers who typically do not qualify for benefits, such as those who work in the “gig economy”, freelance workers and employees who have been furloughed.

Another part of the package includes over $350 billion in grants and loans for small businesses as part of the package Maine’s senior Senator Susan Collins negotiated. Those provisions are designed to help small businesses keep employees on payroll and be able to stay in business while retaining their workforce.

Maine’s small businesses have been hit especially hard by a rolling series of restrictions and mandated closures, with hundreds of Maine small businesses publicly saying they are just trying to hold on.

Distressed corporations will also benefit from the availability of $500 billion in loans.

Unlike the spending package’s approach to individuals, workers and small businesses, the loans to corporations will need to be paid back and will function with strict oversight, forbidding the companies from buying back stock and creating an oversight board to monitor the program.

Earlier in the week, Speaker Nancy Pelosi held up a deal by attempting to add numerous spending provisions, like doling out millions to groups and programs unrelated to the pandemic, forcing Green New Deal restrictions on airlines, changing election laws and forcing private corporations to allow government to appoint members to their boards.