WASHINGTON — The White House and Senate leadership came to an agreement early Wednesday morning on a $2 trillion bill aimed at providing economic relief to workers and businesses hurt by the coronavirus pandemic.
The bill could be passed by the Senate later Wednesday, but it is unclear when the House will take up the legislation, as its members are home in their districts and some have tested positive for the coronavirus or have self-quarantined as a precautionary measure. President Donald Trump is expected to sign the bill into law if it is passed.
The bill would be the third emergency coronavirus spending package Congress has advanced and the largest economic aid measure enacted in modern U.S. history. Congress has already approved an $8.3 billion bill for health agencies and a roughly $100 billion bill aimed at providing free coronavirus testing, paid leave for those affected, additional Medicaid funding and food assistance.
The Senate is expected to release the final text of the third coronavirus spending bill later Wednesday. Here’s what we know so far about what’s expected to be in the bill and how it might help average Americans:
DIRECT CASH PAYMENTS
Individuals making up to $75,000 a year would receive checks for $1,200. Couples making up to $150,000 would receive $2,400, with an additional $500 per child.
The payments would decrease for those making more than $75,000, with an income cap of $99,000 for individuals or $198,000 for couples.
The initial Republican proposal provided less money to lower-income Americans, but that provision was removed from the current bill; anyone making $75,000 or less would be eligible for the $1,200 direct payment.
EXPANDED UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE
The bill would increase the maximum state unemployment benefit by $600 per week for up to four months.
Unemployment benefits would also be extended to those who typically do not qualify, such as gig economy workers, furloughed employees and freelancers.
Under the bill, those nearing the end of their unemployment timetable could have the period extended by 13 weeks.
SMALL BUSINESS SUPPORT
Roughly $350 billion would go toward loans for small businesses.
Companies with fewer than 500 employees could be eligible for up to $10 million in forgivable small-business loans to allow them to keep paying their employees.