WASHINGTON (WAVY) — The United States Senate will vote on a $2 trillion coronavirus relief package that will benefit unemployed workers, local governments, businesses, and hospitals, according to Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine.
Kaine said that an important part of the bill will address unemployed workers who are facing wage losses as a result of businesses shutting down to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Under the relief package, unemployed workers will be able to receive $600 per week on top of the regular unemployment benefits they would receive for up to four months. Kaine called the package “unemployment on steroids” and added that people who wouldn’t typically be eligible for unemployment benefits will be able to apply, including contractors, self-employed business owners and those who work multiple part-time jobs.
Unemployment benefits will not interfere with stimulus checks of $1,200 per tax-filing adult for those who qualify, based on income levels, that were announced by the White House on March 25. More information on the stimulus checks here.
Federal loans have also been extended to small businesses, but Kaine said that wasn’t sufficient for entrepreneurs who may find themselves in more debt than they can pay off when the pandemic ends. To protect small businesses, Kaine said the relief package will make many of the loans forgivable as long as the small businesses keep their employees in place during the COVID-19 crisis. Congress has also included grants for small businesses in the coronavirus relief package.
Large industries — like hotels — will also be eligible for federal dollars; however, Congress has put transparency measures in place to ensure that money goes to taking care of employees and keeping payrolls intact, Kaine said.
The relief package will also block grants to states — a minimum of $1 billion per state — to address needs in the wake of changes caused by COVID-19.
Additional funding would also be given to aid technology in schools and online learning so students can continue their education.
“Local governments — their budgets are being hurt significantly by loss in revenue and unemployment,” Kaine said.
Congress is also putting a “dramatic investment” into the healthcare system, predominately hospitals that are on the front lines of treating the coronavirus pandemic. The money will go toward infrastructure, materials, personal protection equipment, and ventilators. The money will also increase the budget for childcare for medical workers who are working overtime to test and treat COVID-19 positive patients, Kaine said.
“We weren’t willing to accept a substandard package,” Kaine said. “We stayed at the table … The bill is going to the single largest bill congress will pass to respond to this significant challenge.”
Correction: The original version of this article said the $2 trillion package would meet 100 percent of an unemployed person’s previous salary. According to Sen. Kaine’s office, it would provide an additional $600 per week on top of the person’s regular unemployment benefits. While the intent is to replace the worker’s wages, it will not match 100 percent of some worker’s salaries.
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