What’s Inside The Senate’s $2 Trillion Coronavirus Aid Package
March 26, 20205:34 PM ET
The Senate has passed a roughly $2 trillion coronavirus response bill intended to speed relief across the American economy. This is the third aid package from Congress and is meant to keep businesses and individuals afloat during an unprecedented freeze on the majority of American life.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., described the legislation, known as the CARES Act, as necessary emergency relief and vowed to put partisanship aside to get it done.
“No economic policy can fully end the hardship so long as the public health requires that we put so much of our commerce on ice,” McConnell said in a speech on the Senate floor on Wednesday. “This isn’t even a stimulus package. It is emergency relief. Emergency relief. That’s what this is.”
There are six main groups that would see the widest-reaching impacts: individuals, small businesses, big corporations, hospitals and public health, federal safety net, state and local governments, and education.
Here’s what each group can expect if this bill becomes law.
Note: The legislation was released late Wednesday night and official cost estimates have not yet been completed. In some cases, Congress allocated dollar figures for specific programs. The official expected costs of other programs are not yet available. This story includes some figures that are based on administration and congressional estimates.
The bill includes severalelements aimed at helping keep people engaged in the economy. That means direct cash for many families plus expanded unemployment benefits, new rules for things like filing your taxes and making retirement contributions.
Cash payments: Estimated to total $300 billion.Most individuals earning less than $75,000 can expect a one-time cash payment of $1,200. Married couples would each receive a check and families would get $500 per child. That means a family of four earning less than $150,000 can expect $3,400.
The checks start to phase down after that and disappear completely for people making more than$99,000 and couples making more than $198,000.
The cash payments are based on either your 2018 or 2019 tax filings. People who receive Social Security benefits but don’t file tax return are still eligible, too. They don’t need to file taxes; their checks will be based on information provided by the Social Security Administration.
Extra unemployment payments: The $260 billion estimated cost is subject to change based on the number of people filing for unemployment.
The bill makes major changes to unemployment assistance, increasing the benefits and broadening who is eligible. States will still continue to pay unemployment to people who qualify. That amount varies state by state. So does the amount of time people are allowed to claim it.
This bill adds $600 per week from the federal government on top of whatever base amount a worker receives from the state. That boosted payment will last for four months.
For example, if an out-of-work person is receiving the national average of about $340 per week, under the new federal program their take-home pay will be $940.
The legislation also adds 13 weeks of additional unemployment insurance. People nearing the maximum number of weeks allowed by their state would get an extension. New filers would also be allowed to collect the benefits for the longer period.
Gig workers and freelancers: Typically, self-employed people, freelancers and contractors can’t apply for unemployment. This bill creates a new, temporary Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program through the end of this year to help people who lose work as a direct result of the public health emergency.
Tax returns: Some people have not filed their 2019 tax returns, but that’s OK. The filing deadline has been extended to July 15. The IRS also says that people who have filed or plan to can still expect to receive a refund if they are owed one.
Student loans: Employers can provide up to $5,250 in tax-free student loan repayment benefits. That means an employer could contribute to loan payments and workers wouldn’t have to include that money as income.
Insurance coverage: The bill requires all private insurance plans to cover COVID-19 treatments and vaccine and makes all coronavirus tests free.