US Senate Passes Coronavirus Economic Recovery Package

March 26, 2020, 6:24 AM HST (Updated March 26, 2020, 6:40 AM)
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Sen. Brian Schatz

The US Senate passed a rescue bill unanimously on Wednesday that will provide $2 trillion for coronavirus economic recovery.

The package is a bipartisan deal and the largest relief package in American history. It includes billions to help those who are unable to work due to the outbreak, direct cash payments to millions of Americans, new funding for state and local governments, including at least $1.2 billion for Hawai‘i, and aid for small businesses, hospitals, and health care workers.

“This deal will provide federal money to help Hawai‘i families and small businesses, and give our hospitals, clinics, and health care providers resources to fight this outbreak,” said Sen. Brian Schatz. “While we still have more work to do, help is on the way.”

Sen. Mazie Hirono said the coronavirus pandemic is a challenge that requires not just a whole government, but a whole society effort to overcome.

Sen. Hirono. File photo.

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“Governors and Mayors in Hawai‘i and across the country have had to make difficult but necessary decisions to protect public health in order to contain this virus—decisions that are changing our way of life and deeply impacting Hawaii’s economy,” Hirono said. “This legislation, while not perfect, is an ambitious effort to bolster our health care system, provide much-needed relief to workers and families across the country, and support small businesses in our communities. I encourage the House of Representatives to join us in passing this urgently-needed legislation, and for the President to sign it as soon as possible.”

There are key provisions to help everyone impacted by this crisis.

For hospitals and health care workers:

    • Hospitals and health care workers – provides more than $130 billion to help hospitals, nursing homes, health centers, and health care workers across the country.
    • Billions for personal and protective equipment for health care workers, testing supplies, increased workforce and training, new construction to house patients, an increase of the Strategic National Stockpile, medical research into COVID-19 and Medicare payment increases to all hospitals and providers.

Unemployment and the self-employed:

  • Unemployment assistance – provides $260 billion to help those who have lost their jobs or are experiencing reduced incomes.
  • Available to self-employed individuals, part-time workers, independent contractors, and gig workers, including ride-sharing drivers.
  • Covers those who are sick, quarantined, furloughed, or whose family circumstances keep them from working or reduce their pay as a result of the coronavirus outbreak or government containment efforts.
  • Aid will cover salaries up to about $65,000 for 4 months.
  • At least $1.2 billion for Hawai‘i – funding to the state and county governments that will help pay for Hawai‘i’s response efforts.

For eligible individuals and families:

  • Direct cash payments – provides a one-time cash payment to millions of Americans.
  • Individuals will get $1,200 (joint filers get $2,400) plus $500 per child.
  • Benefits start to phase out for those with incomes exceeding $150,000 for married couples, $75,000 for singles, and $112,500 for single parents.
  • Payments will not go to single filers earning more than $99,000; head-of-household filers with one child, more than $146,500; and more than $198,000 for joint filers with no children.

For eligible small businesses and nonprofits:

  • Small businesses and non-profits – provides $377 billion for small employers, including restaurants, hotels, and nonprofits.
  • $350 billion in partially forgivable loans to small businesses and non-profits to maintain existing workforce and help pay for other expenses like rent, mortgage, and utilities.
  • $10 billion for Small Business Administration (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.

For eligible large employers:

  • Large employers – provides $500 billion to keep the biggest employers, including airlines, and their workers on the job.
  • Protects collective bargaining agreements and prevents employers from firing employees.
  • Extends health care benefits for airline contract workers.
  • Prohibits stock buybacks or dividends for the length of any loan provided by the Treasury plus one year.
  • Restricts increases to pay for top executives.

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