Deal reached on $2 -trillion stim­u­lus bill

$2-trillion agree­ment in­cludes pay­ments to many Amer­i­cans plus aid for cor­po­ra­tions and small busi­nesses.

Los Angeles Times - - FRONT PAGE - By Sarah D. Wire

White House, Democrats agree to pack­age of­fer­ing cash to most Amer­i­cans and aid for big and small busi­nesses.

WASH­ING­TON — Af­ter hag­gling for days over the fi­nal de­tails, Se­nate Democrats and the White House agreed Wed­nes­day to a nearly $2-trillion stim­u­lus pack­age to com­bat the eco­nomic fall­out of the coro­n­avirus out­break, in­clud­ing di­rect pay­ments to most Amer­i­cans and a half-trillion-dol­lar fund to shore up strug­gling com­pa­nies.

The price tag of the stim­u­lus bill — by far the largest ever pro­posed — is 9% of the U.S. gross do­mes­tic prod­uct and is meant to pro­vide di­rect fi­nan­cial aid to 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.

Trea­sury Sec­re­tary Steven T. Mnuchin and Se­nate Mi­nor­ity Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) ne­go­ti­ated through Mon­day night and all day Tues­day to re­solve out­stand­ing is­sues.

A Se­nate vote on the deal could oc­cur by mid­day Wed­nes­day, with the House po­ten­tially fol­low­ing soon af­ter.

Se­nate Ma­jor­ity Leader Mitch McCon­nell (R-Ky.) said shortly af­ter 1 a.m. in Wash­ing­ton that the pack­age “will rush new re­sources onto the front lines of our na­tion’s health­care fight. And it will in­ject tril­lions of dol­lars in cash into the econ­omy as fast as pos­si­ble to help Amer­i­can work­ers, fam­i­lies, small busi­nesses and in­dus­tries make it through this dis­rup­tion and emerge on the other side ready to soar.”

House mem­bers have not re­turned from their sched­uled re­cess, and re­mote vot­ing is not al­lowed. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (DSan Fran­cisco) in­di­cated Tues­day that the fastest way for the House to ap­prove the Se­nate bill would be by unan­i­mous con­sent, which re­quires the con­sent of all cur­rent 430 House mem­bers, mean­ing a sin­gle rep­re­sen­ta­tive could ob­ject, as long as he or she is on the floor to do so.

If that hap­pens, Pelosi said she would prob­a­bly need to call back the en­tire cham­ber for an in-per­son vote, which would also raise health risks and lo­gis­ti­cal chal­lenges for mem­bers. It could also lead to po­ten­tial changes to the leg­is­la­tion that would have to be rec­on­ciled with the Se­nate.

De­spite un­usu­ally bit­ter par­ti­san bick­er­ing Mon­day on the Se­nate floor, Pelosi said ear­lier in the day that the fi­nal bill would rep­re­sent a solid com­pro­mise between Se­nate Repub­li­cans — who crafted the ini­tial draft with Demo­crat in­put — and Democrats, who de­layed pas­sage to en­sure it in­cluded more of their pri­or­i­ties. “We think the bill has moved suf­fi­ciently to the side of work­ers,” she said.

The mea­sure is the third stim­u­lus bill pro­posed by Congress to ad­dress the eco­nomic and so­cial dis­rup­tions of the pan­demic. It fol­lows an $8.3-bil­lion mea­sure largely aimed at de­vel­op­ing a vac­cine and a sec­ond pack­age-that man­dated free COVID-19 test­ing and greater ac­cess to sick leave.

The lat­est bill is ex­pected to in­clude di­rect pay­ments of up to $1,200 to most adults, loans to busi­nesses and an ex­pan­sion of un­em­ploy­ment in­surance and other as­pects of the so­cial safety net. It comes as mil­lions of Amer­i­cans have been asked to stay away from school and work, and re­main in­side their homes to re­duce the spread of the dis­ease.

The amounts of the one­time pay­ments, which could go out as soon as early April, will be based on in­come re­ported in 2018 taxes, de­clin­ing grad­u­ally start­ing with in­di­vid­u­als mak­ing $75,000 or mar­ried cou­ples fil­ing 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 $500 per child.

Schumer said ne­go­tia­tors agreed to put “un­em­ploy­ment in­surance on steroids” by ex­pand­ing cover­age to those 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 com­pen­sa­tion.

Other changes to the fi­nal bill in­cluded in­creased over­sight of the $500-bil­lion fund man­aged by the Trea­sury to shore up busi­nesses through loans and loan guar­an­tees. Re­cip­i­ents are ex­pected to in­clude hard-hit travel sec­tors.

Those in­volved in ne­go­ti­a­tions said the deal in­cludes around $130 bil­lion for hos­pi­tals short on med­i­cal masks, ven­ti­la­tors and beds ahead of an ex­pected wave of cases — a $25-bil­lion in­crease from what was ini­tially pro­posed. And it pro­vides $150 bil­lion di­rectly to state and lo­cal govern­ments deal­ing with the out­break.

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