Straighten out relief-bill's last-minute glitches, and get help on its way

Andrew Cummings
March 26, 2020

Democrats in the Senate, led by Schumer, held up a final vote on the proposal until more safeguards were put into place to watch money being given to companies and additional guarantees for workers were included.

A vote to amend the bill to cap the unemployment benefits failed Wednesday night.

The massive bill - which would be the largest economic stimulus measure ever passed by Congress - includes a $500 billion fund to help hard-hit industries and a comparable amount for direct payments of up to $3,000 apiece to millions of United States families. Pelosi said the House would give its members at least 24 hours' notice before voting on the relief bill.

It also includes a $340 billion supplemental package to combat the outbreak itself, including $117 billion for hospitals, $45 billion for FEMA's disaster relief fund and $11 billion for vaccines, therapeutics and other medical needs.

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer called it an "outstanding agreement".

President Donald Trump, whose top aides helped negotiate the bipartisan measure, promised to sign it into law as soon as it reaches his desk.

The measure drew criticism from some liberal groups and Governor Andrew Cuomo of hard-hit NY, who said it was barely "a drop in the bucket". It also has more than $350 billion to aid small businesses.

The Senate Democrats also added a provision that bans businesses owned by the President, Vice President, members of Congress and the heads of the executive branch from receiving loans or investments through that fund.

Several senators missed votes because they were self-quarantined.

Business owners in MA said that money couldn't come soon enough.

And Gov. Andrew Cuomo says the bill doesn't give NY state government what it needs to get through, when the latest estimate suggests a revenue drop of up to $15 billion. "What's missing here is the urgency to get dollars into the hands of business owners and their employees now", she said.

Schumer also said that hundreds of billions would be spent on Democratic priorities, including the expansion of unemployment benefits, money for hospitals as well as more funding for cities and transportation. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Tim Scott (R-S.C.), Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) and Rick Scott (R-Fla.) said Wednesday that they would object to fast-tracking the bill over a provision that would grant an extra $600 per week in unemployment benefits to low-wage workers who lose their jobs.

"I never in my wildest dream believed that we would incentivize people to stop working to take unemployment", said Graham. She said the initial draft of the bill that McConnell presented Sunday was a "non-starter" and Democratic chairs of committees in the House of Representatives worked to shift its focus from corporations to workers.

Mnuchin predicted eligible recipients would receive the $1,200 checks within three weeks if the IRS has direct deposit information on file.

As some progressives clamored for bigger direct payments, lawmakers left open the possibility that Congress would pass more direct aid in the future, if the crisis continues. Unemployment insurance would be vastly expanded.

"It's not so much one figure set in stone, but it is installing a safety net for families, for small businesses that need it now", Clark said.

Other reports by iNewsToday