… individuals, families, small businesses including non-profits eligible for benefits
By Michael Hernandez
WASHINGTON, D.C.—The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act” or the CARES Act was signed by President Donald J. Trump this afternoon after the U.S. House passed it by voice vote earlier in the day despite efforts by Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) to demand a roll call vote that required a quorum of members present. The U.S. Senate had approved the legislation with a 96-0 vote just before midnight Wednesday.
“I never signed anything with a ‘T’ on it,” said President Trump as he signed the 6.2 trillion dollar emergency relief act (which includes four additional trillion dollars for lending purposes). We’re going to vanquish this virus. We are going to keep our small businesses strong and our big businesses strong. And that’s keeping our country strong and our jobs strong.”
The 2.2 trillion emergency relief bill is set to provide individuals and married couples a one-time non-taxable direct payment of either $1,200 for individuals (with an adjusted gross income under $75,000) and $2,400 for married couples (with an adjusted gross income under $150,000) within three to four weeks of the bill being signed states the White House. Individuals on social security and disability and those who have not paid taxes are still eligible. The cap for individuals is adjusted gross income of $99,000 for an individual and $198,000 for a couple (with the amount adjusted by five dollars for every $100 of income earned.). An additional $500 is given per child.
The 883-page Senate Bill 3548 (it was 240 pages last weekend before House Speaker Nancy Pelosi released her 1,540 page version of the bill), the largest historic emergency relief bill in U.S. history also provides $349 billion for business assistance loans which non-profits and churches can qualify for payroll, mortgages/rent, and utilities (with this amount forgiven as a grant instead of as a loan, if employees are retained and not let go).
Another key provision of the Senate bill is $250 billion for an extension of unemployment benefits from 26 weeks to 39 weeks with an extra $600 per week of federal benefits for those unemployed in additional to whatever amount California usually provides unemployment. Independent contractors and those who are self-employed, will for the first time, be eligible for benefits. (Editor’s Note: Unemployment claims went up 3.3 million claims this week after historic lows 22 weeks ago.)
Four Republican (Senators: Lindsey Graham (R-SC); Tim Scott (R-SC); Ben Sasse (R-NE); ;and Rick Scott R-FL) have warned that the extra $600/week provision could cause employers to fire employees and all allows workers to earn possibly more than what they would receive in their jobs through regular wages. However, Democrats (including Senator Bernie Sanders, D-VT) spoke strongly against their objection and the White House is now refuting that Americans will get paid more than they normally earn.
The Senate relief bill also does the following:
- $500 billion for corporations in hard-hit industries to stay in business (with no corporate buy backs and tough limits on executive salaries);
- $240 billion in overall healthcare relief;
- $200 billion for domestic priorities;
- $150 billion for state and local governments;
- $130 billion for small and rural payments;
- $100 billion for hospitals;
- $45 billion to fund additional relief efforts through the Federal Emergency Management Agency for local emergency response and community services;
- $27 billion for development of vaccines;
- $20 billion for healthcare centered on veterans;
- $20 billon for emergency public transportation relief;
- $16 billon for strategic national stockpiles;
- $4.5 billion for the Center for Disease Control; and
- A special inspector general will oversee the administration of payments;
- Federal tax deadlines were extended until July 15;
- Student loans will be deferred until the end of September; and
- Real ID deadlines will be extended to September 2021.
The U.S. Senate passed bill may not (Citizens Journal is trying to confirm) include elements that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was trying to insert in the emergency bill such as: mandated nationwide ballot harvesting and other vote-by-mail and early voting provisions; federal assistance to abortion providers such as Planned Parenthood (going around the current Hyde Amendment which since 1976 has blocked federal funding for abortion services); collective bargaining requirements; new diversity provisions for companies; and Green Deal measures such as solar panel testing requirements, new alternative energy funding and new environmental regulations.
However, the Senate bill does include some House-pushed measures such as: $350 million for Migration and Refugee Assistance (up $50 million from the Pelosi House bill); $75 million each for the National Endowment for Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities (reduced from $300 million each in Pelosi House bill); $25 million for the Kennedy Performing Arts Center in Washington, D.C. (reduced from $35 million in the House Pelosi bill) and additional funding for the Public Broadcasting Service.
(Editor’s note: As best as we can determine, this is the BILL which was passed.)
Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY): “This is a proud moment for our country as Republicans and Democrats pull together.”
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA): “The American people needed a rescue. We are listening to you. Do your part and we will do ours. The virus is here. We didn’t invite it. We didn’t choose it. We are going to defeat it.”
Vice President Mike Pence: “You (President Trump) told us, do whatever it takes to make coronavirus testing free for every American and a free paid American family leave.”
Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin: “You (President Trump) made it clear to think big. War on the virus. Use resources to protect America. Move quickly to deliver money.”
Response Coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx: “Our first goal was ensuring the health of Americans. We need to have economic data with health data. Health is first; but the economy is important.”
Michael Hernandez, Co-Founder of the Citizens Journal—Ventura County’s online news service; editor of the History Makers Report and founder of History Makers International—a community nonprofit serving youth and families in Ventura County, is a former Southern California daily newspaper journalist and religion and news editor. He worked 25 years as a middle school teacher in Monrovia and Los Angeles Unified School Districts. Mr. Hernandez can be contacted by email at [email protected].
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