By Dan McCaleb, Center Square

The U.S. House  approved a historic $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus package that will send billions of dollars directly to Americans and provide hundreds of billions more for businesses, health care systems and others impacted by the pandemic that has crippled the economy.

It is by far the largest relief package in the nation’s history.

The voice vote was overwhelmingly in favor of passage. U.S. Rep. Thomas Massey of Kentucky requested an official roll call, but he was overruled. No official roll call was taken.

The measure passed 96-0 in the Senate, before going on to the President for his signature.

The stimulus package includes $250 billion in direct payments to Americans depending on their income, $250 billion in expanded unemployment insurance benefits, $350 billion in guaranteed small business loans and $500 billion in loans for businesses negatively impacted by the pandemic.

It also includes $140 billion for hospitals and other health care providers.

Assuming Trump’s signature, the legislation will provide payments of $1,200 to each adult and $500 to each child younger than 17, depending on a household’s 2019 income. A married couple with children could receive up to $3,400.

The payments start to phase out for individuals with an income of $75,000 or more, or an income of $150,000 for couples filing jointly. Individuals making more than $99,000 or couples earning more than $198,000 would not be eligible.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called for the Trump administration to send the payments to individuals and families electronically to speed the process. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has said most people will get their payments within three weeks.

The unemployment enhancements will send an extra $600 a week for up to four months in addition to state unemployment benefits. Nearly 3.3 million Americans filed unemployment claims last week, a record number as businesses considered nonessential were forced to shut down to help slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Self employed individuals, including freelancers and gig workers such as Uber drivers, will be elligible.

Another $500 billion in loans will be made available to struggling governments and industries including airlines, states and cities. Airlines will receive $29 billion in grants and $29 billion in loans and loan guarantees.

Payment on student loans held by the federal government will be suspended until Sept. 30.

The legislation also places a 120-day moratorium on evictions for renters whose landlords have mortgages backed by federal agencies.

Critics say the package includes unnecessary pork spending unrelated to the coronavirus, including $25 million would still be allocated for the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

Pelosi said this will not be the final congressional response to the crisis.

Nearly 3.3 million Americans filed unemployment claims last week, a record number as businesses were forced to shut down by state and local governments across the U.S. to help slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.

President Donald Trump said he wanted the U.S. to reopen by Easter Sunday, which is April 12. With the U.S. surpassing 1,000 deaths and nearing 81,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19, many health officials said that would be too early. But Trump reiterated during a press conference that the country can’t stay closed for long.


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