DemDaily: The Third Wave of Relief
April 1, 2020
Last week the US Congress passed its third wave of coronavirus emergency funding -- the single largest economic relief bill in US history.
As the country grapples with the crippling effects of the pandemic and the repercussions of the months-long delay by President Donald Trump in acknowledging the crisis, Congress is acting swiftly to counter the impact to individuals and the economy.Congress: Three Phases of Relief
Congress has passed three phases of assistance over the last four weeks in a historic allocation of federal resources.
Phase One: The Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2020 (HR 6074)
Signed into law on March 6, 2020, the legislation provides $8.3 billion in emergency funding for federal agencies to respond to the coronavirus outbreak. including vaccine development, financial support for state and local governments, and assistance for affected small businesses.
Phase Two: The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (HR 6201)
Signed into law on March 18, 2020, it ensures free coronavirus testing, paid sick and family leave, expanded food assistance and unemployment benefits and increasing Medicaid funding. Estimated cost (varies widely): $350-$500+ billion.
Phase Three: The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security or CARES Act (HR 748)
Signed into law last Friday, March 27, 2020, the $2 trillion coronavirus response bill is aimed at expediting economic relief to businesses and individuals during the coronavirus crisis.
Individuals and Families
Provides a one-time tax rebate check to most Americans.
* $1,200 to individuals making less than $75,000, and reduced payments for those making up to $99,000.
* $2,400 to couples making less than $150,000, and reduced payments for couples making up to $198,00.
* $500 per child for families.
Payments are based on either 2018 or 2019 tax filings. Seniors who usually don't file taxes will receive a check based on their Social Security benefits (SSI) and do not need to file a tax return.
The filing deadline for 2019 tax returns has been extended to July 15, 2020.
* $600 per week on top of whatever state-based payment a worker receives. Duration: four months.
* 13 Weeks of extended unemployment insurance beyond the normal maximum number of weeks.
* Financial assistance for the self-employed, gig workers and freelancers: The bill creates a new, temporary Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program. Duration: through the end of 2020.Small Business
* $10,000: Businesses can apply to the Small Business Administration (SBA) for grants of up to $10,000 in emergency funds to cover immediate operating costs.
* $10,000,000: The SBA can provide loans of up to $10 million per business, which could be forgivable if used to maintain payroll, rent, mortgage and existing debt, provided works are employed through June.
* Current Loans: Relief for existing SBA loans to cover six months of payments.
House Leader Nancy Pelosi said that work on elements of a fourth government relief package will be ongoing while members of the House and Senate are on recess through April 20th.
The reality of that return date, however, is already in question as it conflicts with the administration's new social distancing guidelines, now extended through April 30th.
There is also the question of whether all lawmakers will be physically capable of returning, as now at least six members have tested positive for COVID-19 and another three dozen are self-quarantined because of exposure.
The New Reality: As of 5:30pm today, there were 207,281 confirmed cases of coronavirus spanning every US state, including 4614 fatalities.
Worldwide, the virus has so far infected 884,609 people with a reported 44,773 deaths.
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Sources: CDC, US Congress, NPR, NewYorkTimes, NationalLawReview, CountableUS, MSNBC