WINNERS, LOSERS IN $2.8-TRILLION U.S. STIMULUS PLAN.
SMALL BIZ, FARMERS, HOSPITALS ALL BENEFIT
Days of negotiations between the Trump administration and Congress — and fierce lobbying by industries eager for assistance dealing with the coronavirus outbreak — has yielded a rescue package for the United States worth more than $2.84 trillion in spending and tax breaks.
Here are some of the winners and losers:
MORE AID FOR COMPANIES, STRINGS ATTACHED
The plan would increase assistance for distressed companies to about $710 billion. But the aid comes with strings attached after pressure from Democrats.
Companies receiving a government loan would be subject to a ban on stock buybacks through the term of the loan plus one additional year. They also would have to limit executive bonuses and take steps to protect workers. The Treasury Department would have to disclose the terms of loans or other aid, and a new Treasury inspector general would oversee the lending program.
The bill is largely a win for the retail, hotel and restaurant industries that initially viewed lawmakers as favouring the airline industry.
AIRLINES WIN LOANS, CASH-FOR-EQUITY BAILOUTS
Struggling U.S. airlines would be eligible to receive federal loans and direct cash assistance if they are willing to give an option for an ownership stake to the government.
The program allocates $36 billion to passenger carriers and $4.3 billion to airline contractors providing ground staff such as caterers, while cargo haulers would see $5.7 billion.
Other transportation winners include rail and transit operators. Amtrak would get $1.5 billion to cover coronavirus-related revenue losses and support state-funded routes. State and local transit agencies would get $35.5 billion for operating and capital expenses.
SMALL BUSINESSES WANTED CASH INJECTIONS
The bill carves out more than $497 billion in aid for small businesses, much of which would be in loans through the Small Business Administration and banks, guaranteed by the federal government. The loans would be forgiven provided the businesses meet certain requirements, including limiting reductions in pay and layoffs, though with more flexibility for employers than the original Senate bill.
CASH FOR CITIZENS, GIG WORKERS
The package would provide direct payments to lower- and middle-income Americans of $1,700 for each adult, as well as $710 for each child.
Democrats were able to secure a change from a previous version that allows low-income taxpayers to get the full $1,700 payment. The initial plan would have given smaller cheques, or in some cases, no money at all, to very-low income people.
Unemployment insurance payments were boosted and recipients would be eligible to receive those funds for an average of four months. It also would extend eligibility to the self-employed and gig workers.
MONEY FOR HOSPITALS UNDER HEALTH-CARE ‘MARSHALL PLAN’
The legislation calls for $166 billion for hospitals and veterans’ health care, as well as $22.7 billion for personal protective equipment, ventilators and other medical supplies for federal and state response efforts.
It also includes $15.6 billion for vaccines, therapeutics, diagnostics and other medical needs, and at least $355 million to improve the capacity of health-care facilities to respond to medical events, according to a summary by the Senate Appropriations Committee.
The bill would require insurers to cover tests for COVID-19.
MORTGAGE RELIEF FOR WIDE SWATH OF BORROWERS
Many U.S. homeowners and businesses hit hard by coronavirus could get relief from making their monthly mortgage payments through the bill.
Borrowers with loans insured by government agencies such as the Federal Housing Administration and the Department of Veterans Affairs would be eligible for a temporary postponement of mortgage payments.
Consumers whose mortgages are backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac would also be eligible to skip payments.
EMERGENCY AID FOR FARMERS INCLUDED
The stimulus package includes up to $33.4 billion in farm aid. It would provide $13.5 billion in emergency funds for agriculture, including livestock producers and growers of specialty crops such as fruits and vegetables. And it would authorize $19.9 billion in new borrowing authority for the U.S. Agriculture Department’s Commodity Credit Corp., a Depression-era entity the Trump administration has used for its farm-bailout programs the past two years.
STATE, LOCAL GOVERNMENTS GET RELIEF
A coronavirus relief fund with $213 billion would be created for states, cities and other local governments. Additional funds will be set aside for territories, tribal governments and other entities.
The package includes $568 million for the Election Assistance Commission to provide grants in response to the coronavirus outbreak. The funds could be used to expand voting by mail, early voting and online registration and bolster in-person voting, according to a Senate aide.
NO AID FOR TRUMP PROPERTIES
Democrats won language that would bar any business owned by President Donald Trump or his family from getting loans from Treasury. Businesses owned by members of Congress, heads of executive departments and Vice President Mike Pence also would be blocked from receiving aid under the stimulus program.
OIL INDUSTRY, RENEWABLES BOTH LOSE
A $4.3-billion provision in the original GOP bill to buy oil for the nation’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve was cut by negotiators. The funding for the emergency stockpiles had been requested by the Trump administration for the purchase of up to 77 million barrels of crude oil to support the domestic industry and boost reserves at cheap prices.
Democrats sought to add billions in funding for clean energy in exchange and in the end both were scuttled. But the issue could arise as Congress takes up additional coronavirus-related legislation in coming weeks.
The Trump administration and Congress have agreed to an assistance package to help businesses and workers in cities such as New York City that are devastated by the impact of the COVID-19 crisis.