Congress passes $2 trillion in aid

Rebecca Neipp

News Review Staff Writer

Congress passes  $2 trillion in aidA historic $2 trillion package was passed by congress and signed by the president last week in an attempt to bring relief to communities, businesses and families impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

At press time, the U.S. saw coronavirus cases ballon up above 240,000, giving Americans the dubious distinction of most-reported cases in the global health crisis. As federal, state and regional governments issue directives to self-isolate in order to slow outbreaks, many Americans are now battling on two fronts — balancing the needs of protecting personal and community health with the hardship of lost wages as countless businesses have shuttered their services and sent employees home.

“This bill will help ensure that our country stays on track as we work to deal with this public health threat,” said House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy. He noted that the legislation provides increased support to the healthcare system, state and local governments, workers and businesses.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell noted that the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act is not a stimulus package, it is emergency relief. “No economic policy can fully end the hardship so long as the public health requires we put so much of our commerce on ice.”

Some notable inclusions in the package are cash payments of $300 billion. Individuals earning less than $75,000 annually can expect a one-time payment of $1,200 per adult plus $500 per child. Checks drawdown for those earning more than $75,000 annually, and are phased out for those making above $99,000.

Payments are based on 2018 or 2019 tax filings.

Unemployment benefits have also been expanded in the act, which adds $600 per week from the federal government on top of the base amount workers receive from the state. The boosted payments will last four months.

The CARES Act also includes provisions for temporary assistance to the self-employed, freelancers and contractors who cannot typically apply for unemployment.

Insurance providers, under the bill, will be mandated to cover all COVID-19 treatments and vaccines, and provide for free testing.

Small business relief includes $10 billion in grants for emergency funds to cover operating costs and $350 billion in loans through the Small Business Administration.

McCarthy co-hosted a call with SBA and local chamber members seeking details in what assistance is available to them.

“I thank the SBA for giving my constituents upates on how to apply for disaster relief and walking them through their important questions, and most of all, all of the small business owners, entrepreneurs and workers who are the fabric of our community,” said the congressman.

The bill also establishes a tax credit for businesses of all sizes that are closed or distressed, in order to help keep workers on payroll.

Provisions relating to healthcare include funding for treatment and vaccines, veterans’ health care, telehealth and medical supplies.

McCarthy praised those in the public and private sector who rose to the challenge, ahead of federal aid, to soften the burden on local residents. “It is more evident than ever that kindness, generosity and innovation have taken center stage as our communities continue to uplift one another.”

“This is a historic and unprecedented stimulus package that supports Americans,” said State Sen. Republican Leader Shannon Grove, who also represents the IWV.

“Some of the hardest days in history have revealed the bravest acts of Americans. Although we are in the midst of challenging and unsettling times, I am certain America will persevere.”

“The virus is here,” said McCarthy. “We didn’t ask for it. We didn’t choose it. But together, we will defeat it.”

Story First Published: 2020-04-03