Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., walks to the chamber as lawmakers negotiate on the emergency coronavirus response legislation, at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, March 18, 2020. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Early Wednesday, a negotiating team comprised of Sen. Mitch McConnell, Sen. Chuck Schumer, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, incoming White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, and White House legislative affairs director Eric Ueland announced a deal on a “massive stimulus package they hope will keep the nation from falling into a deep recession because of the coronavirus crisis.”
From the Associated Press:
The stimulus bill — by far the largest ever proposed — comes with a price tag equivalent to 9% of the nation’s gross domestic product and is meant to provide direct financial aid to help individuals, hospitals and businesses. It includes $300 billion for small businesses, $150 billion for local and state governments and $130 billion for hospitals, according to those involved in the negotiations.
The latest $2 trillion stimulus bill is expected to include direct payments of $1,200 or less to most adults, loans to businesses and an expansion of unemployment insurance and other aspects of the social safety net.
The amounts of the one time payments, which officials hope could go out to Americans as soon as early April, will be based on income reported in 2018 taxes, declining gradually beginning with individuals who made $75,000 or married couples filed jointly who made $150,000. Individuals making $99,000 or above, or married couples making $198,000 or more would receive no check. People would also receive an additional $500 per child.
Schumer said negotiators agreed to put “unemployment insurance on steroids” by expanding those covered to include people who are furloughed, gig workers and freelancers, and by increasing the payments by $600 dollars per week for four months, on top of what states provide as a base unemployment compensation.
Schumer was in touch with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi during the negotiations. Pelosi said that “the fastest way for the House to approve the Senate bill would be by unanimous consent,” but if that wasn’t attainable she would need to call members back to Washington, D.C. for an in-person vote. If the House passed any amendments, those changes would have to be reconciled with the Senate.
In a middle-of-the-night statement from the floor, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell promised that the Senate would pass the legislation Wednesday.
Now the nation looks to Speaker Pelosi to keep her soldiers in line.