Senate Republicans Introduce Trillion-Dollar COVID-19 Relief Plan

March 19, 2020 Updated: March 19, 2020
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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) introduced on Thursday the text of the Republicans’ proposal for the third part of the sweeping COVID-19 response plan, with formal negotiations with the Democrats now able to begin.

The massive new legislative package is to combat the effects of the outbreak of the CCP virus. The Epoch Times refers to the novel coronavirus, which causes the disease COVID-19, as the CCP virus because the Chinese Communist Party’s coverup and mismanagement allowed the virus to spread throughout China and create a global pandemic.

According to Reuters, the GOP plan has a price tag of over $1 trillion.

The plan includes cash payments of up to $1,200 for individuals and $2,400 for couples, said Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), along with an additional $500 for each child.

McConnell said the legislation would include direct financial help for Americans, relief for small businesses and their employees, steps to stabilize the economy, and new support for healthcare professionals and COVID-9 patients.

Senate Democrats have outlined their own $750 billion emergency plan that would include expanding paid family and sick leave.

“The American people need help and they need it fast,” McConnell said on the Senate floor on Thursday.

Epoch Times Photo
The Capitol in Washington on Jan. 2, 2020. (Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times)

Four-Part Plan

McConnell said earlier the GOP proposal has four parts: small business relief, direct payments to Americans, aid to industries most hurt by the lockdowns, and enhancing the response in the area of public health.

Small businesses would be targeted with loan guarantees, the Hill reported, with parts of the loans potentially waived.

“Our goal is that as many small businesses as possible will be able to go to their existing bank, if they agree to participate, and get the cash they need to make payroll & business rent/lease & if they use it for that purpose not have to pay it back,” said Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), the GOP point-man on business relief, in a Twitter post.

On Wednesday, McConnell vowed from the Senate floor that “The Senate is not going to leave small business behind.”

Epoch Times Photo
Senate Majority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) speaks to media at the Capitol in Washington on Feb. 5, 2020. (Charlotte Cuthbertson/The Epoch Times)

In a 90-8 vote, the Senate approved a House-passed CCP virus economic aid package on Wednesday. It includes two weeks of paid leave for sick and quarantined workers, extends state unemployment insurance programs, and provides free COVID-19 testing.

Ahead of the vote to adopt the House-passed aid package, McConnell stressed solutions that would put money into hands of businesses quickly.

“That means a historic injection of liquidity and access to credit, and it means Washington working directly with the lenders who already work with these small businesses to minimize the new bureaucracy so the assistance can flow as fast as possible,” McConnell said.

“We all know what small businesses are up against,” he said. “Just this week, New York City joined the list of towns and cities across the country where local officials have shuttered every bar and every restaurant for the sake of public health.”

“These job creators are literally being taken offline by their own governments for the public good,” he said.

As for distributing cash to individuals, the Hill separately reported that the Senate Republicans were discussing an earnings cap for payout eligibility.

According to the report, Cramer said that what was being considered was a $1,200 check to anyone who earns less than $75,000 a year, with the amount growing incrementally smaller until it drops off to zero for those making over $95,000.

“Chairman Grassley and others are determining the best pathway to put money directly in the hands of the American people—those who are employed, those who may be laid off, retirees, disabled Americans, families—as quickly as possible,” McConnell said Wednesday.

Keeping paychecks flowing for idled workers as jobless claims skyrocket is a top priority for both the Republican and Democratic plans emerging from Congress.

Some GOP senators panned Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s plan for direct checks to Americans of $3,000 for a family of four—preferring instead to use the federal dollars to keep workers who are asked to stay home on the business payrolls.

“What I want is income, not one check,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham, (R-S.C.), summing up the views of some exiting a long, private meeting of GOP senators on Capitol Hill. One or two checks “makes no sense to me,” he said.

“It’s not a check. It’s checks. It’s not a payment, it’s income,” Graham said. “The best thing for us to do is create an income stream.”

The GOP bill is also expected to provide loans to “industries of national importance,” which includes airlines.

“Chairman Wicker and several Senators are considering the possibility of targeted relief for key industries that are shouldering an outsized burden from the public health directives and which our Nation will need to be operational on the other side of this,” McConnell said Wednesday.

The plan will also contain measures to further the public health fight against the virus itself, McConnell said, “such as getting more tools in the hands of healthcare providers, removing barriers to treatment, and helping researchers develop therapeutics and vaccines.”

The GOP leader is expected to roll out the Republican plan later Thursday, senators said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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