White House, Senate reach deal on $2 trillion coronavirus relief package

The White House and Republican and Democratic Senate leaders struck a bipartisan deal early Wednesday over a $2 trillion stimulus package designed to ease the economic impact of the novel coronavirus.

Why it matters: The emergency legislation that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) promised to pass later Wednesday will deliver vital aid to workers, small businesses, corporations and health care providers under strain from COVID-19, which has infected more than 55,000 people in the U.S. and killed 802 others.

  • After days of intense negotiations, the agreement the lawmakers have reached is set to benefit most Americans.

Details: White House legislative affairs director Eric Ueland, told reporters just before 1 a.m. that a deal had been reached but the bill’s text had yet to be completed, the New York Times reports.

  • “We have either, clear, explicit legislative text reflecting all parties or we know exactly where we’re going to land on legislative text as we continue to finish,” he added.

The measures: The bill will deliver a one-time stipend of about $1,200 per individual, $2,400 for couples, and $3,000 for family of four,” according to AP, which notes higher income levels will not receive the boost. Per AP and a letter from Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer to Democratic senators, other key provisions are for:

  • Small business: $367 billion to keep making payroll while workers have to stay home. “Companies with 500 or fewer employees could tap up to $10 million each in forgivable small business loans to keep paychecks flowing,” AP notes.
  • Federally guaranteed loans will provide eight weeks of assistance for qualifying employers who maintain payroll. Those who meet requirements would have costs such as utilities, mortgage interest and rent forgiven.
  • Unemployment benefits: $600 per week added to normal state benefits for up to four months with an extra 13 weeks of benefits — adding to 39 weeks of regular unemployment insurance “through the end of 2020 if they are sidelined by the outbreak,” per AP. The coverage would be effective Jan. 27.
  • In a move Axios’ Kia Kokalitcheva calls “unprecedented,” the deal extends to groups including gig economy workers.
  • Health care and social services: $242 billion “in additional emergency appropriations to fight the virus and shore up for safety net programs,” AP reports. It’ll fund public health providers including hospitals, the CDC, child nutrition, hospitals, the food stamps program ($15.6 billion more) and transportation agencies.
  • Industry: The final number for big businesses like airlines and provisions against potential employer abuses are still subject to negotiations. But Republicans are seeking $500 billion in loans.
  • The bill delays employers’ payroll tax payments. “They would would be able to defer payment of their 2020 payroll taxes until 2021 and 2022,” per AP.
  • States: Negotiations are continuing, but Democrats and governors are seeking $150 billion in assistance.

-Axios