The U.S. Senate unanimously passed the $2 trillion economic relief package late Wednesday, the latest federal aid effort to address the COVID-19 crisis.
The bill now goes to the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives, which is expected to pass the bill by a voice vote on Friday.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) said the bill “could make the difference in the next few months between putting food on the table and going hungry, between surviving this period of unemployment and financial ruin.”
The legislation will reportedly account for about 8% of the entire gross domestic product of the United States, and is worth more than half of the $3.5 trillion the federal government expects to collect in taxes this year.
Among the bill’s provisions is direct payments of $1,200 to Americans earning up to $75,000 — which would gradually phase out for higher earners and end for those with incomes more than $99,000 — and an additional $500 per child. According to Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, those funds should begin arriving within three weeks.
The measure also includes $500 billion in loans to struggling businesses, $377 billion in loans and grants for small businesses, $150 billion for local, state and tribal governments, and $130 billion for hospitals.
It further prevents foreclosures and evictions during the crisis on properties where the federal government backs the mortgage; pauses federal student loan payments for six months and waives the interest; gives states millions of dollars to begin offering mail or early voting; and provides more than $25 billion in new money for food assistance programs like SNAP.
Earlier yesterday, U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut) told webinar listeners that “we have tried to do very quickly what normally would have taken months. I hope we can get money out as soon as possible.”
The webinar, hosted by the New Haven Chamber of Commerce, also found the senator predicting a surge in coronavirus cases, as “Connecticut is on the border with New York, now the epicenter” of the pandemic.
“We don’t have a vaccine or cure yet,” Blumenthal reminded listeners. “We have to prepare for the worst and hope for the best. We may see a resurgence in the fall. This challenge is going to be with us for a while. We all hope staying home and social distancing will succeed.”