The United State House of Representatives expects to pass a $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief package that aims to boost workers, small businesses and industries that have been affected by the pandemic.
“Tomorrow [Friday] we’ll bring the bill to the floor,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters during a Thursday news conference. “It will pass with strong bipartisan support.”
Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, a Maryland Democrat, says members will try passing the bill Friday by voice vote.
“Members are advised that the House will convene at 9 a.m. on Friday, March 27, 2020, to consider the bill,” according to a statement attributed to Hoyer. “Members are further advised that due to the limited flight options, members participating in self-quarantine, and several states mandating stay-at-home orders, we expect the bill to pass by voice vote on Friday.”
President Donald Trump says he intends to sign the bill into law immediately.
The bill will provide a one-time $1,200 tax rebate for individuals making as much as $75,000 a year. Couples who earn less than $150,000 a year and jointly file will receive $2,400. An additional $500 is provided per qualifying child.
The legislation, which unanimously passed the Senate late Wednesday, March 25, 2020, also:
- Authorizes emergency loans to distressed businesses. A provision prevents major government figures — cabinet member, Senators, members of Congress — from qualifying for grants and loans if they have majority control of the business.
- Establishes and funds forgivable bridge loans for small businesses.
- Provides additional funding for grants and technical assistance.
- Increases the maximum unemployment benefit by $600 for 4 months.
“It’s been a long, hard road, with a remarkable number of twists and turns,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, told reporters. “But for the sake of millions of Americans, it will be worth it. It will be worth it to get help to millions of small businesses and save tens of millions of jobs.”
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The bill comes as initial unemployment insurance claims in the U.S. spiked to more than 3.2 million last week as shelter-at-home rules were enacted across much of the country in the wake of the global COVID-19 pandemic. By comparison, about 281,000 filed for unemployment benefits during the previous week.
“I have been a labor economist for a very long time and have never seen anything like this,” Heidi Shierholz, director of Policy at the Economic Policy Institute and former chief economist in the Obama administration’s U.S. Dept. of Labor, wrote in a tweet Thursday morning.