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The Senate presented a new aid package in connection with the coronavirus: who and how much can receive

The cost of the measures proposed by the Republicans is estimated at $ 1 trillion, but the Democrats have already called the new aid package not extensive enough. "Voice of America".

Photo: Shutterstock

Republican senators have unveiled a $ 1 trillion coronavirus stimulus bill that includes new direct payments to millions of Americans, additional aid to small businesses and money to reopen schools.

Conservative lawmakers immediately criticized it as unreasonable and costly, while Democrats said it did not meet the country's needs.

It is expected to kick off serious negotiations with House Democrats, who passed their own health and economic recovery bill in May, which is forecast to cost $ 3 trillion.

The current stimulus package is the fifth since the start of the pandemic in March.

“We have prepared a carefully calculated and focused project that will hit directly at the three crises facing our country: it is about returning children to school, returning workers to work and winning the health system in the fight against the virus,” said the leader of the Republican majority in the Senate Mitch McConnell speaking in the House.

McConnell outlined the main points of the republican draft.

These include:

  • another payment to individuals in the amount of $ 1200 ($ 2400 for married couples);
  • the second part of the small business rescue program, which provides for the allocation of more than $ 500 billion to companies with fewer than 500 employees (this time the GOP proposal focuses on seriously affected firms with no more than 300 employees);
  • the allocation of $ 100 billion for the full opening of schools and universities, which is a priority for President Donald Trump;
  • $ 26 billion to develop vaccines and therapeutic treatments for COVID-19.

The release of the Republican package has been delayed amid disagreements between Republican lawmakers and the White House.

“Another trillion dollar donation is meeting with considerable resistance,” Republican Senator Ted Cruz told reporters on Capitol Hill. “The answer to these challenges will be more than simply raking money out of Washington. The answer to these challenges will be getting people back to work. ”

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Perhaps the most controversial aspect of the Republican plan is that it calls for a $ 400 a week cut in the additional federal unemployment benefit, which caused a quick backlash from Democrats. CNN.

The proposal will cut federal unemployment benefits, which expire later this week, to $ 200 from the current $ 600 level, as states move to implement a system that provides about 70 percent wage replacement for laid-off workers.

“As with the CARES Act in March, Senate Republicans have created yet another bold vision to help our nation. So now we need our fellow Democrats to repeat their role as well, ”McConnell said, urging them“ to put aside resistance and rediscover the urgency that helped CARES get past the finish line. ”

McConnell said he hopes the Senate will be able to bring the next coronavirus relief bill to the House in the next two to three weeks.

Democrats criticized the bill as not broad enough.

Senate Democratic minority leader Chuck Schumer called the Republican initiative "completely inadequate" because it does not provide enough money to safely open schools, does not protect financially distressed homeowners from mortgages and tenants from eviction.

“How heartless it is,” said Sumer. "How cruel."

Schumer was particularly critical of the unemployment benefit cuts, saying, “The Republican unemployment benefit proposal is simply not feasible," and added that “the idea that we need to drastically cut these benefits because workers would rather stay at home. very much exaggerated. "

He also called the Republican plan "an indecisive, unfinished legislative proposal" and "too little, too late."

Who will be eligible for $ 1200 payments

The Health, Economic Assistance, Responsibility and Schools Act (HEALS Act) offers a second round of financial assistance to Americans in the amount of $ 1200, writes CNBC.

The second round will follow the same formula as the first, according to a Senate Finance Committee memo: individuals earning up to $ 75 gross annual income in 000 and couples earning up to $ 2019 will receive the full amount ($ 150 or $ 000, respectively ). Checks will decrease by $ 1200 for every $ 2400 of income above these limits, payments will stop completely at $ 5 and $ 100, respectively.

Individuals who have no income and those whose income comes from programs such as SSI benefits are still eligible for the full amount.

Individuals will also receive $ 500 for each dependent, as under the CARES Act. Unlike the first round, this time there is no age limit in the surcharge. CARES restricts payment for dependents 17 years of age, making it impossible for many college students and other adult dependents to receive a check.

In the new bill, the Senate also clarified that checks will not be able to go to the accounts of those who died before January 1, 2020, and prisoners will not receive them (the first round of financial aid mistakenly sent large amounts to both).

To send you money, the IRS will need an address or your bank account information. You can provide this data to IRS website.

What else is in the law?

Senator Susan Collins of Maine, GOP spokeswoman, described how the legislation would update the Payroll Protection Program.

The proposal, Collins said, "will allow the hardest-hit small employers, those whose income has dropped by 50% or more, to get a second bad loan."

“To help us target employers who need help the most, we are limiting these second loans to small businesses with 300 or fewer employees,” she added.

Republican Senator Richard Shelby of Alabama, chairman of the Appropriations Committee, explained other key components of the package, including funding for testing and training.

First, $ 16 billion will go to accelerate state testing, with a particular focus on schools, employers, childcare and nursing homes. Second, $ 26 billion will go towards the development and distribution of vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics, Shelby said. "Third, there is $ 105 billion for the Education Stabilization Fund to help schools adapt to the circumstances they face."

Shelby added: "This law provides additional funding for K-12 schools to get children back to class at least 50% of the time, which will be a great start."

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Senator John Cornin, a Texas Republican, described the liability safeguards that will be included in the plan, warning that "without action from Congress, an epidemic of lawsuits could sink the various businesses we hope to support." The new proposal, he said, "ensures that those who act in good faith and follow all relevant guidelines are not wiped off the face of the earth by the courts."

Until all this has been approved. Now the leaders of the House of Representatives - which introduced the $ 3 trillion HEROES bill in May - and the Senate will hold talks before passing the final package. The talks are expected to last until August.

McConnell called the plan a "starting point," recognizing that Democrats will be needed for the project to get a seat on the president's table and that there are still many negotiations ahead.

“Every bill has to start somewhere. Republicans make up the majority in the Senate. This is the starting point. You will have many stories to cover along the way, as we discuss these issues in different party circles and with the administration, ”he said.

If the law is passed, it will take weeks or even months to wait for a new round of payments.

Miscellaneous In the U.S. financial aid coronavirus Special Projects COVID-19

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