News & Media

Coronavirus March 26 Update: Details on the Stimulus Package Headed to the House & Debate Over a 4th Bill

Thursday, March 26, 2020

House to vote on stimulus package Friday 

The House plans to vote on a roughly $2 trillion economic stimulus package Friday after it passed the Senate late Wednesday evening. 

Senators passed the bill (HR 748) by a vote of 96-0 after a slowdown in the afternoon over unemployment insurance benefits in the measure. 

The bill would pay unemployed individuals $600 a week for four months on top of their regular unemployment compensation. Senate Democrats, along with the White House, argued the standardized number was a logistical necessity, as states don't have the resources to match benefits with a worker's prior salary. 

A small group of Republicans, including Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, opposed the program, saying that it could incentivize people not to go back to work by potentially paying them more than their former jobs, David Lerman writes. 

But the group was allowed a vote on an amendment from Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., that would limit unemployment insurance to 100 percent of a claimant's former salary. The Senate rejected it 48-48. 

Speaker Nancy Pelosi endorsed the bill Wednesday. The House plans to vote on the measure Friday by voice vote, and it's expected to pass. President Donald Trump has said he "will sign it immediately." 

More on what's in the bill below ... 

Lawmakers settle levels of hospital, industry funding 

The wide-ranging stimulus measure (HR 748) includes aid to businesses, workers and struggling industries during the coronavirus pandemic, as well as supplemental funding for government agencies on the front line of the response: 

Cash payments: Lawmakers settled on a $1,200 payout in tax rebate checks per individual, or $2,400 per married couple filing jointly, with an additional $500 per child. Benefits would start to phase down at $75,000 adjusted gross income for individuals and $150,000 for joint filers. 

Small businesses: The bill would provide about $377 billion in loans, much of which would be forgiven if workers are kept on the payroll. 

Hospital funds: Aid to hospitals increased in the final measure to about $100 billion. 

Industry aid: The airline industry ended up with $32 billion in direct cash grants, in addition to $29 billion in loans in the bill, after airline unions argued the companies would need to lay off employees without grants. Other struggling industries, such as hotels, would also receive aid. And $17 billion in loans would go to "businesses critical to national security," including Boeing. 

Elections: States would receive $400 million to help them prepare to hold elections during the pandemic. 

Leaders consider need for fourth coronavirus bill 

With the wrapup of a third coronavirus aid package, congressional leaders vary over whether a fourth measure is necessary. 

"This is not going to be the last bill," Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on the "PBS Newshour" on Wednesday, adding that "the next phase will be recovery." 

House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md., told the House Democratic Caucus that he expects a fourth and fifth phase of legislation to respond to the pandemic, Lindsey McPherson reports. 

Democrats want to address a number of issues that haven't made it into legislation yet. Those include expanded family and medical leave, stronger Occupational Health and Safety Administration regulations to protect first-responders, and a federal mandate for states to provide remote voting options in the presidential election. 

The Senate could take up a fourth package, but not immediately, according to Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo. He told reporters Wednesday that senators will use their recess "to get ready for whatever is phase four." 

Other Republicans were less eager, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., who said a fourth package was premature. 

"I think you should take a deep breath, let the [previous] bills go to work and then decide," he said.