Highlights of Congress' economic relief plan

The US Senate is the focus of negoations on a massive coronavirus economic support package

The US Senate announced early Wednesday morning that it has reached a deal for a $2 trillion dollar coronavirus relief and economic stimulus package.

Senate leaders say an agreement has been reached to approve a sprawling $2 trillion economic stimulus package that would include money for the unemployed, small businesses and large corporations.

The package would also give direct cash payments to most Americans, expand unemployment benefits and put forth a $367 billion program to help small businesses make payroll, according to The Associated Press.

Citing aides close the discussion, the Wall Street Journal reported that lawmakers had discussed sending one-time checks worth $1,200 to Americans - and an additional $500 to children - with the assistance phasing out for individuals making more than $75,000 and married couples making more than $150,000. Unemployment insurance would be expanded to provide extra US$600 a week on top of state benefits, which now vary in length and amount, eligibility would be expanded to cover more workers.

The massive package also includes $100 billion in assistance for hospitals and health systems across the nation.

Stocks rose sharply in America and around the world Tuesday in anticipation of the infusion of aid into the USA economy. Also covers part-time, self-employed, gig economy workers.

Senate Democrats blocked a procedural vote to fast-track the legislation on Sunday night, accusing Senate Republicans of turning the $500 billion "Exchange Stabilization Fund" - created to extend credit from the government to big business - into a "slush fund" by resisting oversight over its allocation. "$10 billion for SBA emergency grants of up to $10,000 to provide immediate relief for small business operating costs", and makes "rent, mortgage and utility costs eligible for SBA loan forgiveness"- all provisions that were in earlier drafts. That means a family of four -two parents, two children - will receive $3,400.

The money was in the prior GOP-crafted Senate bill that stalled earlier in the week.

Schumer's office said Democrats won a $150 billion boost in hospital funding, a $150 billion relief fund for state and local governments and $25 billion for transit systems.

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"We have the anguish of the American people wondering about the future of their health, the health of their loved ones and of the economy necessitates us to do all we can to help them and help our country", he said.

Companies that receive a government loan will not be allowed to buy back stock during the time the loan is outstanding and until one year after it is paid back, reports Bloomberg.

The final deal includes an inspector general to oversee the $500 billion fund, as well as a five-person congressional panel.

"I've learned, let's just see what happens", the president told reporters at the White House when asked about the Trump Organization.

Schumer said the plan offers "billions more" for critical investments into personal and protective equipment for health care workers, testing supplies, increased workforce and training, among other things.

While Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) vowed that the Senate will pass the bill today (i.e., Wednesday-they convene at noon to do so), the details of the language were still being worked out.

Under the proviso, businesses owned by members of Congress, Vice President Mike Pence, and top members of the executive branch are also excluded from the bailout.

Amherst Pierpont Securities economist Stephen Stanley, who broadly saw small firms as well-covered in the bill, said in a note to clients Tuesday that "there are a lot of difficulties in vetting applicants, but getting money out the door quickly will be vital to keeping small businesses alive and hence keeping workers employed".

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