The US House of Representatives has approved the hotly-debated $2.2 trillion COVID-19 stimulus bill, with the package of measures now slated to head to the president’s desk for signature.
The economic care package, featuring emergency bailout funding for major companies and banks, as well as increased unemployment benefits, tax credits and aid to local and state governments, also includes a one time cash payment of up to $1,200 to millions of Americans who earn under $75,000 a year. It also promises to provide the US’s privately run health care system with much-needed emergency medical supplies.
Democrats and Republicans approved the measures in a show of unity that comes just a day after the United States surpassed China as the country with the highest COVID-19 infection rate in the world, with over 86,000 infections and 1,300+ deaths as of this writing.
President Trump has repeatedly pressured lawmakers in both the Senate and the House to move forward with the bill, and even praised former Democratic senator and Obama Secretary of State John Kerry on Friday after Kerry accused Republican Representative Thomas Massie of “testing positive for being an a**hole” for trying to delay the bill’s passage by attempting to force a formal, recorded vote.
The package includes $290 billion in cash payments to Americans, $260 billion in unemployment aid to eligible workers, $377 billion in loans and grants to small and medium-sized businesses, and a controversial fund worth $504 billion to provide as much as $4.5 trillion in Federal Reserve lending to big business, states and cities secured by lobbying on Capitol Hill.
Corporations taking funds from that fund are required to agree to a number of provisions, including retaining 90 percent or more of their workforce through September, and limiting executive pay bonuses to $425,000 a year.
The fund also includes $150 billion in aid to state and local government, $100 billion for hospitals, $16 billion for the production of medical supplies, $11 billion for vaccines, $4.3 billion to the US Centers for Disease Control, $45 billion in disaster relief funds, $30 billion for education, $25 billion to support the mass transit system, $10 billion in aid to airports, and $32 billion for airlines.
The bill also includes nearly $300 billion in tax deductions, credits and write-offs, and nearly $100 billion for food stamps and child nutrition programs, housing programs, and child and family services.
If and when President Trump signs the bill, it will add nearly 10 percent to the US’s already gargantuan $23 trillion in debt, with debt expected to spike to as much as 120 percent of America’s GDP.