The U.S. Senate has passed a major economic stimulus bill that is intended to blunt the impact the ongoing coronavirus impact is having on American industries and workers.
In a unanimous vote, senators voted to pass a $2 trillion stimulus package late Wednesday. Entitled the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, themeasure will now pass to the U.S. House of Representatives for approval, which is aiming to vote on the bill by Friday.
In a statement, Sen. John Boozman (R) said the stimulus will enable businesses to continue operating and provide needed support to the healthcare industries as they combat the coronavirus threat.
“The coronavirus is overwhelming our healthcare system and is inflicting a dramatic financial toll on American workers, families and small businesses. The magnitude of this crisis urgently requires us to think big and act big. The CARES Act provides emergency relief to those upended by the devastation this outbreak is causing. Providing funds directly to hardworking Americans, resources to help job creators continue operations, and support for the men and women of the medical community who are on the frontlines treating patients and working to find a cure is necessary to address this emergency,” he said.
Individuals will receive one-time payments of up to $1,200, or $2,400 for couples, based on 2019 tax returns if filed or 2018 if they did not file. In addition, there will be $500 added for each child claimed. This benefit will begin phase out for incomes above $75,000 for individuals and cease at the $99,000 income mark. For couples, the phase income level is $150,000 and the stop mark is $198,000.
The biggest segment of the stimulus package will go toward creating a $500 billion fund, made of taxpayer money, that will be used to help make loans or investments in businesses, states and cities affected by the pandemic.
There is also $350 million in loans that is earmarked for small businesses in the measure. Loans of up to $10 million will be available for businesses to cover salaries, wages and benefits. In addition, the bill includes a tax credit for retaining employees – up to 50 percent of wages paid during the pandemic period – for businesses that are required to cease operations or have their gross recipients decline by 50 percent or more from last year.
Airlines and cargo carriers will receive $2 billion and $4 billion, respectively, to pay wages, salaries and benefits. There will be another $25 billion and $4 billion for both industries set aside for loans.
Hospitals and veterans’ health care will be allocated $117 billion.
Federal student loan payments are also suspended through September 30. There will be no interest accrued on these loans during that period.
See the full bill here.