The U.S. Senate unanimously approved a $2 trillion emergency relief bill Wednesday night designed to cushion the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, which have included 3.3 million Americans filing for unemployment last week, as most nonessential businesses across the country shutter to halt the spread of the coronavirus.
The stimulus package—which was passed unanimously—is the largest economic rescue package in U.S. history, the Washington Post reports.
Here are some key provisions for businesses in the package:
++ It will send direct checks to more than 150 million American households. Single Americans will receive $1,200, married couples will get $2,400, and parents would see $500 for each child under the age of 17. Payments will phase out for individuals with adjusted gross incomes of more than $75,000, and those making more than $99,000 won’t qualify at all (thresholds are doubled for couples).
++ Unemployment insurance will expand. The government will give unemployed workers an extra $600 a week for four months, on top of state benefits that on average range from $200 to $550 a week.
++ A new pandemic unemployment assistance program will be implemented to provide benefits for people who are unemployed, partially unemployed, or those unable to work because of the virus and don’t qualify for traditional benefits: independent contractors, the self-employed, and gig-economy workers.
++ It includes a massive loan program for businesses large and small. The Treasury Department will provide $500 billion in loans, loan guarantees, and investments. Earmarked already is $25 billion for passenger air carriers, $4 billion for cargo air carriers, and $17 billion for businesses that work in national security. The remaining $454 billion will go to businesses, states, and municipalities. “The measure includes restrictions on businesses that receive the loans,” according to CNN. “Those businesses may not issue dividends for up to a year after the loan is no longer outstanding and must retain 90% of employment levels as of March 24, ‘to the extent practicable,’ through Sept. 30. The loans also cannot last longer than five years.
There’s a specific provision in the program for direct loans to mid-sized businesses, defined as between 500 and 10,000 employees, as well as nonprofit organizations, where no payments will be due for the first six months after the loan is issued.
++ Student loan debt will be suspended, without penalty, through Sept. 30.
++ The package will create “a $100 billion public health and social emergency fund to reimburse providers for expenses and lost revenues related to the coronavirus pandemic. About $65 billion will go to hospitals, with the rest funneled to doctors, nurses, suppliers, and others,” CNN reports.
++ The stimulus prohibits federally elected officials and their immediate relatives from obtaining funds. The package has the following verbiage: “Businesses that are owned or partly owned by the President, the Vice President, the head of an Executive department, or a Member of Congress; and the spouse, child, son-in-law, or daughter-in-law” will not receive loan assistance.
++ The package includes housing protections against foreclosures on mortgages and evictions for renters. Its verbiage states that “anyone facing a financial hardship from coronavirus shall be given a forbearance on a federally backed mortgage loan of up to 60 days, which can be extended for four periods of 30 days each.” The legislation also bars fees, penalties, or additional interest to be levied as a result of delayed payments.
The House will convene at 9 a.m. Friday to formally pass the legislation.
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