The coronavirus pandemic has resulted in a massive downturn in the American economy, and millions now find themselves unexpectedly out of work. But while the GOP has been trying to help, Democrats have been hesitant to make a deal — until now.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and his fellow Republicans struck back at congressional Dems who repeatedly tried to hold up much-needed financial relief for Americans, and by 1:30 a.m. on Wednesday, it was announced that an agreement had finally been reached, according to the Washington Examiner.
“At last, we have a deal,” McConnell said of the $2 trillion spending plan. “After days of intense discussions, the Senate has reached a bipartisan agreement on an historic relief package for this pandemic.
“It will rush new resources into the front lines of our nation’s healthcare fight, and it will inject trillions of dollars of cash into the economy as fast as possible to help the American workers, families, small businesses, and industries make it through this disruption and emerge on the other side ready to soar,” he added.
Unemployment benefits “on steroids”
According to USA Today, individuals earning $75,000 annually or less will receive $1,200 under the plan, with joint-filers at that income level eligible for $2,400 in addition to $500 for each eligible child. The phase-out of eligibility begins at income levels of $75,000 for individuals and $150,000 for joint-filers, with the final payment amount reduced by 5% of total income in excess of $75,000.
What’s more, the bill makes sweeping adjustments to unemployment insurance in order to raise weekly payments by $600 and provide expanded coverage for a period of four months. Those benefits will be extended to workers who have been furloughed as well as those who have been laid off, according to the Washington Examiner.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) characterized the aforementioned provisions as “unemployment compensation on steroids.”
“Every American worker who is laid off will have their salary remunerated by the federal government so they can pay their bills,” Schumer said. The New York Democrat went on to praise his party’s maneuvering during negotiations with the GOP, claiming, “Our unity gave us important strength and leverage in negotiations.”
American Enterprise Institute economist Kyle Pomerleau also praised the plan.
“The $600 flat benefit every week makes the unemployment insurance more progressive,” he said, according to the Washington Examiner. “The additional cash will be helpful for those who have very low incomes who have lost their job.”
Bill heads to the House
The bill also promises $377 billion in aid to small businesses, sets aside $500 billion to bolster the liquidity of major corporations, offers $150 for state and municipal governments, and provides $100 billion in aid to hospitals, according to The Hill.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has indicated that the House will take up the legislation on Friday and that she expects it to pass via a voice vote, CBS News reports.