The U.S. Senate finally passed the Coronavirus Relief Bill put forward by Republicans, which Democrats had to modify with restrictions.
The bill saw days of negotiations as many of the Democratic Senators fought long and hard to ensure that the federal government would release funds mainly for purposes of helping America’s workers and for bailing out qualified companies.
Whereas before, the language of the bill did not have much to offer as protection for American workers, healthcare providers and families. The original bill proposed by Republicans, did not impose transparency and adequate restrictions; nor required appropriate oversight on how and to whom federal funds will be doled out as bailout money.
Touted as the largest stimulus package to have been legislated in the annals of U.S. Congress, the original trillion-dollar stimulus fund proposed by Republican Senators doubled to 2 trillion. Mainly because the Democratic Senators also introduced a $750-billion emergency plan that would see to the payment of employees’ family leave, unemployment insurance and pick sick leave.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (Dem-NY) had strongly pointed out that the proposed bill has the traits of a legislation mainly intended as “bailout money” for certain industries. Senator Schumer explained the Democrats’ position in opposing the original bill, saying
”It is not because we want those industries to go under; what we do not want is for companies to receive dollars that will go mostly to shareholders and corporate executives.” “What we want is to impose restrictions on stock buybacks, to make sure that bailout money will go to workers first.”…”Also, companies that lay off employees should be barred from receiving government aid.”
In responding to the arguments of Democratic Senators, Republicans accused them of engaging in politics in a time of crisis. Surprisingly, other Republicans like Senator Lindsey Graham (S.C.), Senator Richard Shelby (Ala.) and Senator Jim Lankford (Okla.) were one with the Democrats; albeit carefully wording their opposition to the proposals put forward by their fellow Republicans.
Senator Lankford told reporters
“I have a lot of questions on how this (bailout money) works, who gets it and who does not.”
Key Takeaways of the Approved Coronavirus Bill
Although language to the approved Coronavirus Bill has yet to be finalized, the key takeaways of the bipartisan deal include the following:
1) Direct payment of up to $1,200 and $500 financial assistance to eligible unemployed American adults and children, respectively.
2) $150 billion will be distributed as stimulus funds for state and local governments,
3) $130 billion will go to U.S. hospitals to bolster unemployment insurance
4) A $367 billion program to be made available to small businesses. The purpose of which is to give business owners capability to pay employees who have been ordered to shelter-in-place.
5) $500 billion to fund the loan and guarantee program that the Treasury Department will administer, which is broken down as follows:
- $425 billion for U.S. states, cities and businesses;
- $50 billion for distressed passenger airlines;
- $17 billion for firms engaged in products and services essential to national security, and
- $8 billion to cargo airlines.
6) The appointment of an independent Inspector General and creation of an oversight board to closely examine and inspect the Treasury Department’s lending decisions. This aspect became of particular importance, as Trump had previously told reporters that under the Republican proposal, he will be the “oversight.”