President Trump on Wednesday signed the second coronavirus relief bill into law which will provide Americans with necessary paid sick leave, unemployment help and free testing in this very crucial time in the war against the Coronavirus.
The legislation provides 14 days of paid sick days to workers affected by the coronavirus, ensures free testing to everyone, including the uninsured, and expands food aid and boosts unemployment dollars to states.
The Senate passed the legislation in a 90-8 vote earlier Wednesday.
Two senators were absent – Sen. Cory Gardner and Sen. Rick Scott— because of self-quarantining after exposure to people who tested positive for coronavirus.
They’re not done just yet. Next up on the agenda is a package proposed by White House and the Senate which would be the third round of stimulus and could inject a whopping $1 trillion dollars into a U.S. economy that has been rocked by the forced changes necessary to combat COVID-19.
Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell signaled Wednesday that Senate Republicans were close to an agreement on this third round of legislation that would help businesses, American workers, health-care professionals and others hard hit by the public health emergency.
“This will be needed to respond to the crisis,” McConnell said before the Senate adjourned for the evening. “The Senate’s going to stay around until we finish the bill and send it over to the House. I recommend senators stay close while we don’t know exactly how long it will take to get this done, everyone knows that we need to do it as quickly as possible because the situation demands it.”
The third stimulus package includes a push by the Trump administration for direct payments to Americans totaling $500 billion split over two payments on April 6 and May 18
The two payments to taxpayers would be identical and the amounts would vary by family income and size, according to the Treasury Department document on the “Stage Three” coronavirus proposal.
Early Wednesday, President Trump issued a tweet assuring Americans out of work because of the crisis that “money will soon be coming to you.”
“For the people that are now out of work because of the important and necessary containment policies, for instance the shutting down of hotels, bars and restaurants, money will soon be coming to you,” Trump tweeted. “The onslaught of the Chinese Virus is not your fault! Will be stronger than ever!”
Another $50 billion would be provided for lending to the airline industry along with another $150 billion to “other severely distressed sectors of the U.S. economy” through secured lending or loan guarantees. The proposal would require “limits on increases in executive pay” until the loans are repaid. Trump signaled Wednesday that airlines, cruise ships and hotel industries are all “prime candidates” for support.
The Trump administration also signaled it wanted $300 billion in the package to help small businesses, which have been hammered under social isolation and various cities banning dine-in services at bars and restaurants in an effort to prevent the spread of the COVID-19.
The administration would create a “small business interruption loan program” targeted at businesses with fewer than 500 employees that would cover six weeks of payroll. The amount for each employee’s wages would be capped at $1,540 per week, or about $80,000 a year.
The details of the plan are fast-moving and in flux. But McConnell pledged that the Senate will not recess until another round of stimulus is passed.