Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer announced in the early morning hours Wednesday that he had achieved a deal on a $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus package with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Republicans in the Senate. The Senate could vote as early as Wednesday afternoon on the bill, the text of which is not yet available. In a dear colleague letter to Senate Democrats, Schumer said "We have reached an agreement to address this public health emergency, support our local communities, and most importantly, put America's workers first."
To that end, the bill still includes $1,200 per individual, $500 per child for people making up to $75,000 annually in a one-time payment. The "phase-in" that cut lower-income workers that the Republicans had included in their failed bill is gone. Schumer says those checks will be cut April 6. Democrats argued for continuing payments, but didn't get it. They did, however, secure a greatly expanded unemployment insurance program that Schumer wrote "increases the maximum unemployment benefit by $600 per week and ensures that laid-off workers, on average, will receive their full pay for four months." He continued, "It ensures that all workers are protected whether they work for businesses small, medium or large, along with self-employed and workers in the gig economy." It also allows workers who are furloughed rather than laid off to receive UI.
It still has the $500 billion loans for industries, cities, and states, but with now with oversight. Importantly, Schumer said, it "has a provision that would block President Donald Trump and his family, as well as other top government officials and members of Congress, from getting loans or investments from Treasury programs in the stimulus." It also creates and oversight board and a special inspector general in the Treasury Department to oversee lending decisions with the crisis funds. "Every loan document will be public and made available to Congress very quickly, so we can see where the money is going, what the terms are and if it’s fair to the American people," Schumer said on the floor early Wednesday.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren got a win—companies receiving the loans will have to accept a ban on stock buybacks throughout the term of the loan and for an additional year, and would have to limit executive bonuses and prove they have taken steps to protect their workers. Companies that have been mandated to close or who have seen a significant loss of business, who still retain employees, are eligible for a tax credit. Student loan borrowers whose employers provide loan payment assistance to don't have to pay income tax on the aid. Additionally, it has $367 billion in a loan program for small businesses, as well as $150 billion for hospitals and other healthcare providers for equipment and supplies.
Here's the toplines from the letter Schumer provided to colleagues.
- 4 months more unemployment insurance instead of 3 months.
- $55 billion increase in the Marshall Plan for our Health Care System.
- $150 billion for a state, tribal, and local Coronavirus Relief fund.
- $10 billion for SBA emergency grants of up to $10,000 to provide immediate relief for small business operating costs.
- $17 billion for SBA to cover 6 months of payments for small businesses with existing SBA loans.
- $30 billion in emergency education funding and $25 billion in emergency transit funding.
- $30 billion for the Disaster Relief Fund to provide financial assistance to state, local, tribal, and territorial governments, as well as private nonprofits providing critical and essential services
- More than $10 billion for the Indian Health Services, and other tribal programs.
- Prohibit businesses controlled by the president, vice president, members of Congress, and heads of executive departments from receiving loans or investments from Treasury programs.
- Make rent, mortgage, and utility costs eligible for SBA loan forgiveness.
- Ban stock buybacks for the term of the government assistance plus one year on any company receiving a government loan from the bill.
- Establish robust worker protections attached to all federal loans for businesses.
- Create real-time public reporting of Treasury transactions under the Act, including terms of loans, investments, or other assistance to corporations.
- Create a Treasury Department Special Inspector General for Pandemic Recovery to provide oversight of Treasury loans and a Pandemic Response Accountability Committee to protect taxpayer dollars.
- Add a retention tax credit for employers to encourage businesses to keep workers on payroll during the crisis.
- Provide income tax exclusion for individuals who are receiving student loan repayment assistance from their employer.
- Eliminate $3 billion bailout for big oil.
- Eliminate “secret bailout” provision that would have allowed bailouts to corporations to be concealed for 6 months.
- Save hundreds of thousands of airline industry jobs and prohibited airlines from stock buybacks and CEO bonuses.