Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) introduced a $1 trillion emergency economic aid proposal to address the economic fallout from the coronavirus outbreak pandemic.
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act or “phase three” bill unveiled Thursday afternoon includes four major components: “direct financial help” for Americans, “rapid relief” for small businesses, “significant steps to stabilize our economy” and “more support” for health-care professionals and patients.
At the heart of the $1 Trillion dollar proposal is hundreds of billions of dollars directed toward “recovery rebates” of up to $1,200 for most individuals who reported less than $75,000 on their 2018 tax returns, or $2,400 per couple who filed their taxes jointly and made less than $150,000. Another $500 would be added for every dependent child. Low-income Americans with at least $2,500 of qualified income get a smaller benefit of $600, or $1,200 for couples.
The bill allocates $200 billion in loans to distressed industry sectors with $50 billion directly going towards commercial airlines and $300 in forgivable bridge loans for small businesses. These loans must be used, according to the proposal, for to pay salaries, mortgage payments, other debt obligations and payroll support including paid sick, medical and family leave, as well as health care benefits.
It will also extend the tax filing deadline from April 15 to July 15.
In a speech on the Senate floor Thursday afternoon, McConnell said he hoped this “bold new proposal” would receive “bipartisan respect and mutual urgency.”
“These are urgent discussions and they need to happen at the member level,” McConnell said on the Senate floor as he introduced the 247-page proposal. “This legislation is a significant next step. And the Senate is not going anywhere until we take action.”
The Senate Republicans’ relief proposal aligns with the request from the Trump administration. On Wednesday, the Treasury Department laid out in a memo on what they would like to see in their bill, including two rounds of direct cash payments to taxpayers, one on April 6th, and the second on May 18th, if the crisis hasn’t subsided. The two rounds is estimated to cost $250 billion each.
McConnell added that Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow would be meeting with both parties in the Capitol to work on reaching an agreement on the Senate bill.
Speaking after McConnell, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) immediately complained that no Democrats “had virtually no impact” in drafting the proposal. He also criticized the bill as a “bailout for a number of industries” adding any assistance for struggling industries must include “worker priorities and worker protections” provisions.
“It had virtually no input from Democrats,” Schumer said. “We will look at it and read it tonight. But from what I’m told, it provides a bailout for a number of industries.”
Schumer then offered his own five-point stimulus plan focused on bolstering aid to hospitals and providing income for out-of-work individuals. He added that the package “must” include sick leave benefits that expand from what was included in emergency bill the president signed into law Wednesday and additional expansion of unemployment insurance.
“A one-time cash payment of $1,000, that might help families cover rent, groceries, for a month, but then what?” Schumer said. “The pandemic requires bold structural changes to our society’s safety net to give people a lifeline for months, not just weeks.”
Some Republicans have opposed the idea of direct payments. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) told reporters Thursday that direct payments “makes no sense now.”
“Direct payments make sense when the economy is beginning to restart. It makes no sense now cause it’s just money,” Graham said. “What I want is income, just not one check. I want you to get a check every week, not just one week.”
President Trump signed the “phase two” House bill that provides paid sick leave, unemployment help and free testing to Americans late Wednesday evening.