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Senate vote expected on $2 trillion economic stimulus package

Sarah D. Wire, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

Along with providing a one-time payout of up to $1,200 for most American adults, the bill includes more than $377 billion for small businesses, $150 billion for local, state and tribal governments and $130 billion for hospitals.

The one-time payments to Americans, which Congress and the White House hope to have in people's hands by early April, will be based on adjusted gross income reported in 2019 taxes -- if they have been filed -- or 2018 taxes if they have not. The amount will decline gradually beginning with individuals who made $75,000 or married couples filing jointly who made $150,000. Individuals making $99,000 or above or married couples making $198,000 or more would receive no check. People would receive an additional $500 per child.

Even those who have no income, whose income comes entirely from nontaxable benefit programs like Social Security or who file a tax return only in order to take advantage of the refundable Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit, should get a check.

First proposed last week, the bill's passage was delayed by days of negotiations that spurred angry speeches and uncharacteristic outbursts on the Senate floor. Republicans accused Democrats of dragging their feet and trying to squeeze pennies into the bill while the crisis mounted.

"We should have passed this last Sunday. Time was wasted," Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., said.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said Wednesday he'll leave it to others to determine if Democrats' changes were worth the delay.

 

"The Senate is going to stand together, act together, and pass this historic relief package today," McConnell said. "The Senate will act to help the people of this country weather this storm. This is not even a stimulus package. It is emergency relief."

Democrats say they won many changes that made the bill more beneficial to people hardest hit by the coronavirus crisis. "To improve this legislation was worth taking an extra day or two," Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., said.

Included in the changes are:

-- An expansion of who qualifies for unemployment insurance to include people who were furloughed, gig workers and freelancers. It included an increase in the unemployment payments by $600 per week for four months on top of what states provide as a base unemployment compensation, and extended the benefit for 13 weeks for people already collecting unemployment insurance.

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