Congress has now passed the coronavirus stimulus bill. President Trump has signed a $2 trillion financial stimulus package, the largest in U.S. history.
Coronavirus Stimulus Bill Explained
As the country struggles with the coronavirus pandemic, two days after the Senate debated its provisions, The House of Representatives has passed the bipartisan bill, the largest that the U.S. has ever seen.
President Trump said that it was “twice as large” as any other relief bill and the greatest single economic rescue plan in the history of the U.S.
The CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) Act hopes to provide urgent relief to the nation’s workers, families, and businesses.
Why Was the Coronavirus Stimulus Bill Necessary?
The U.S. now has the highest number of confirmed COVID-19 cases, more than any other country in the world. Since the coronavirus began spreading across the nation, many businesses have closed and laid-off employees.
Figures for unemployment has soared to a record of 3.3 million Americans filing for unemployment claims.
Air travel has fallen radically, and car firms have ceased production. A fifth of the U.S. workforce is on some form of lockdown, according to economists. One in four Americans has been instructed to stay at home and only leave for essential requirements.
With the nation facing an economic and health emergency of momentous proportions, the stimulus bill is necessary to support those affected by the coronavirus epidemic.
What Happened in Congress?
Although members of the House were ready to carry out the vote from their homes, at the last minute, they were required to return to Washington after a Republican representative ordered a minimum of half the chamber was in attendance.
The House had to operate differently from usual to ensure social distancing was adhered to. Many members could not make the gathering due to canceled flights or being in quarantine. Members did not sit next to one another, and cleaners were busy disinfecting.
The bill was drawn up after days, and sometimes nights, of intense debates between congressional Republicans and Democrats and the Trump administration. The deal was eventually declared mid-week, laying the way for the Senate to take up and pass the measure.
A vital feature of the stimulus package is that it will deliver much needed financial support to U.S. citizens in the form of direct checks based on 2018 tax returns (or 2019 tax returns if these have been filed).
Anyone who earns an adjusted gross income of $75,000 or less shall receive a payment of $1,200. Married couples with a joint income up to $150,000 shall get $2,400 with an additional $500 per child.
The payment shall be made up to a single income threshold of $99,000 (joint $198,000) but will be scaled down. Anyone with income higher than $99,000 would not qualify.
Trump wanted checks to be sent from April; however, it is likely to take six weeks to get set up and executed.
Paid Sick Leave
Anyone employees who isolate or are advised to quarantine because of COVID-19 will get two weeks paid sick leave. This includes anyone caring for someone under quarantine. Parents forced to care for children because of school closures can get up to 12 weeks of paid leave.
Millions of dollars will be available for public health and social emergency funds, as well as providing hospitals, particularly those battling to cope with the outbreak, with much-needed funds. Medical facilities will receive $150 billion, including resources for COVID-19 testing supplies and construction of new facilities to house the growing number of patients.
Most states presently offer up to 26 weeks of benefits for unemployed citizens. The coronavirus stimulus bill will bolster the unemployment benefits program and extend that to 39 weeks and provide an additional $600, on top of maximum benefits, per week for four months. Under the law, independent contractors, freelancers, and furloughed employees who were not normally covered will be eligible to claim.
A total of $377 billion has been set aside for small businesses, offering loans and tax breaks for those who face going out of business so they can continue to pay their employees. Any companies with less than 500 workers could receive a “Small Business Interruption Loan” if they maintain staff payments.
The loan is intended to retain workers and cover six weeks’ full salary payments topped at $1,540 per week.
The coronavirus stimulus bill will implement an independent inspector committee to oversee funds distribution for distressed industries. $500 billion in loans or investments can be granted to corporations, states, or cities.
The President also invoked the Defence Production Act (DPA), prior to signing the coronavirus stimulus bill, empowering the President to make industries create items for national defense requirements.
General Motors (G.M.) may be the first to be compelled under the DPA, to make 40,000 ventilators.
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Early withdrawals of retirement funds related to the coronavirus will not impose the standard 10% tax fine, backdated to January 1, 2020.
Additionally, there will be no required minimum distribution (RMD) from your retirement account in 2020.
The Emergency Food Assistance Program (EFAP) will get $450 million to supply U.S. food banks for anyone requiring food packages.
Additional funds will go to U.S. territories, American Indian reservations, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and Child Nutrition Programs.
Testing and Vaccines
The coronavirus stimulus bill ensures that any tests to find out if you have COVID-19 or vaccines will be free of charge. Even if you are uninsured, you will be covered, but not for any additional testing or treatment. Check with your current healthcare plan providers for more information.
Homeowners and Renters
The coronavirus stimulus bill now protects homeowners from foreclosure, allowing up to 60 days clemency on mortgage loans and up to four 30-day payment holidays. No additional charges or interest can be added to delayed payments. Landlords with mortgages also get leniency up to 30 days and up to two 30-day payment holidays.
Renters in a multifamily home cannot be evicted based on being unable to pay rent for four months nor get charged fees for late or non-payments.
Additional grants are available to support airline workers, and student loan payments will automatically be stopped until October 2020 without penalties.
For further updates on the government response to coronavirus, visit their official site.
What does the stimulus bill mean for you? How has your life been affected by COVID-19? Please comment below.