Senate passes $2.2 trillion stimulus late Wednesday

WASHINGTON   — The Senate unanimously passed a $2.2 trillion stimulus package late Wednesday aimed at aiding businesses, workers and health care systems affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

“The Coronavirus epidemic has damaged our physical and our economic health,” said Republican Louisiana Senator Dr. Bill Cassidy. “This bill supports the economic health of individuals, families and employers. It also advances the fight to make us safe from the disease.”

The 880-page measure is the largest economic relief bill in U.S. history.

“Pray for one another, for all of our families and for our country,” said  Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.

“The legislation now before us now is historic because it is meant to match a historic crisis,” said Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. “Our healthcare system is not prepared to care for the sick. Our workers are without work. Our businesses cannot do business. Our factories lie idle. The gears of the American economy have ground to a halt.”

Highlights of the CARES Act include:

  • $1,200 direct payments to individuals who earn less than $75,000 annually; $2,400 for families with a household income below $150,000; $500 per child.
  • Four months of unemployment insurance for laid-off workers; raises maximum benefit by $600 per week. Applies to employees for large and small business, and self-employed and gig workers.
  • $150 billion for health care system
  • $367 billion in small businesses loans, which can be forgiven under certain parameters.
  • $117 billion for hospitals and veterans’ health care.
  • $45 billion for the FEMA Disaster Relief Fund
  • $11 billion for vaccines, therapeutics, diagnostics and other medical needs

The package now heads to the House for consideration.