WASHINGTON, D.C. – By a sweeping bipartisan tally, the Senate on Wednesday approved a $100 billion-plus bill to boost testing for the coronavirus and guarantee paid sick leave for millions of workers hit by it — and President Donald Trump quickly signed it. But lawmakers and the White House had already turned their focus to the administration's far bigger $1 trillion plan to stabilize the economy as the pandemic threatens financial ruin for individuals and businesses.
Details on Trump's economic rescue plan remain sparse — and it's sure to grow with lawmaker add-ons — but its centerpiece is to dedicate $500 billion to start issuing direct payments to Americans by early next month. It would also funnel cash to businesses to help keep workers on payroll as widespread sectors of the $21 trillion U.S. economy all but shut down.
In a memorandum, the Treasury Department proposed two $250 billion cash infusions to individuals: a first set of checks issued starting April 6, with a second wave in mid-May. The amounts would depend on income and family size.
The Treasury plan, which requires approval by Congress, also recommends $50 billion to stabilize the airlines, $150 billion to issue loan guarantees to other struggling sectors, and $300 billion for small businesses. The plan appears to anticipate that many of the loans would not be repaid.
Taken together, the administration plan promises half of the $1 trillion to families and individuals, with the other half used to prop up businesses and keep employees on payroll.
Direct payments would go to U.S. citizens only, and would be “tiered based on income level and family size.” The two payments would be identical, with the second wave starting by May 18.
The Treasury outline provides a basis for lawmakers to work from in an unprecedented government response and is likely to be broadened to include additional emergency funding for federal agencies.
The price tag for the upcoming economic package alone promises to exceed Treasury's $1 trillion request, a rescue plan not seen since the Great Recession. Trump is urging Congress to pass the eye-popping stimulus package in a matter of days.