Senator Mitch McConnell outlines coronavirus relief package with cash payments: NPR

Senate Republicans have introduced a third legislative stimulus package to deal with the economic fallout from the coronavirus. The bill includes cash grants for many Americans and assistance for small businesses.



AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Republicans have released their proposal for the latest round of coronavirus relief efforts. This latest package could total more than $1 trillion as lawmakers race to avert economic catastrophe.

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MITCH MCCONNELL: The goal is to help small businesses survive, to help workers keep their jobs, and to help businesses and workers emerge ready to thrive.

CHANG: The bill includes cash relief for many Americans, as well as several other measures intended to stabilize the economy. Here to walk us through the details is NPR Congressional Correspondent Kelsey Snell.

Hi Kelsey.

KELSEY SNELL, BYLINE: Hey there.

CHANG: Alright, so let’s start with the main elements of this bill. What can you tell us?

SNELL: Well, let’s start with those cash payments you mentioned. They – the bill includes $1,200 per person with a phasing out for individuals earning over $75,000 or couples earning over $150,000. Thus, the payments would decrease if you exceed this amount. And it would be–they would eventually go away. In addition, there is $500 per child.

I think some of the cool things that people might notice is that there’s also an allowance for students to defer student loan repayments on federal loans, and they would push back the tax filing deadline for the most part people to July 15. From the business side, the small business part has received a lot of attention. Lots of stuff there, but the focus is on no-fee forgivable loans. So businesses with 500 or fewer employees could spend the money on payroll until the end of June. And if they spent it that way, the loans would be forfeited.

CHANG: Alright. So what about the relief for the airline industry? I mean, President Trump promised them bailouts. Is that also in this bill?

SNELL: Yes, it’s here. What it includes is $208 billion in loan guarantees for these big industries, people like the airline industry, potentially for the cruise industry or for hotels. There is $50 billion for the airlines in particular. But there’s another $150 billion in there for industries that we don’t know exactly which ones. It is unclear who would get this money.

Republicans have been careful to point out about these loans here is that they are just that; they are loans. They must be repaid. Unlike the small business loans we talked about before that could be forgiven, these aren’t structured that way. They want big business to get the money now to stay afloat, but they have to pay it back.

CHANG: These are not documents.

SNELL: Right. Exactly.

CHANG: OK, so do we even know if the Democrats will support this? I mean, how fast do you think this thing will pass?

SNELL: Well, some of the things that Democrats have raised are actually related to these – the big industry payouts that we were talking about. Democrats want to make sure companies can’t use that money for stock buybacks. They want to make sure that big companies like airlines also have to use it to maintain their payroll.

So there are a number of places where Democrats agree. And they were kept informed throughout this negotiation process, and they knew what it was about, but they had no say in it. They now have the opportunity to suggest additions and make changes in the days to come. And from what I understand, the goal is to have it done by the end of next week. Now, it’s really fast, and you know Congress doesn’t always do things very fast.

CHANG: (Laughs) Yes, I know that.

SNELL: But they say there’s a huge rush here. They know the economy is hurting, and Congress wants this to get to the president’s office as quickly as possible.

CHANG: Okay, that’s NPR’s Kelsey Snell.

Thanks Kelsey.

SNELL: Thank you for inviting me.

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