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Lawmakers tout federal coronavirus relief package

$1.8 trillion bill still not finalized

In a conference call Tuesday on a proposed $1.8-trillion package designed to help the nation contend with the economic gutting inflicted by the coronavirus pandemic, U.S. Sen. Bob Casey repeatedly touted his Democratic party’s role in crafting the deal, which calls for direct payments to families, help for hospitals and nursing homes, enhanced unemployment insurance, loans for small and medium-sized companies, a fund for larger businesses and “stabilization” money for states and municipal governments.

“(But) this agreement could have been even better for Main Street if not for the intransigence of Senate Republicans, who prioritized Wall Street and corporate interests over hardworking Americans,” Casey stated in a news release afterward.

By contrast, Republican U.S. Rep. John Joyce called for leaving partisanship behind: “We need to work together and put aside political pettiness. The end zone is a common end zone.”

Based on the agreement, hashed out between Congressional leaders and the White House, but still not final in the Senate as of Wednesday evening, single tax filers and heads of households would be eligible for direct payments of $1,200, while married couples filing jointly would be eligible for $2,400, with additional payments of $500 per child under 17, according to Casey spokeswoman Natalie Adams, in an email.

There would be income restrictions, with “phase-out” of benefits, depending on filing categories.

The phase-out would begin for single filers at $75,000, for heads of household at $112,500 and for couples at $150,000, according to Adams.

Checks could arrive within three weeks, according to the New York Times.

The direct payments are intended “for people who need it right away,” Casey said.

Joyce said that he would need to see the details about the direct payment provisions and other elements of the bill, noting that the current relief proposal — the third version — originated in the Senate.

The $150 billion alloted for the health care institutions will help ensure hospitals receive reimbursements, so they can continue to serve their communities and maintain employment — funding that’s especially necessary for smaller institutions, Joyce said.

The stabilization money for states could be used to help their hospitals with the crisis response, according to Casey. The money will be distributed by formula, based on population, he indicated.

The big-business fund, which could help struggling industries like airlines and hotels, will be subject to far more accountability than originally proposed by Republicans, because of the Democratic addition of measures that include a call for establishing a dedicated Office of Inspector General, Casey said.

The Democrats also called for a prohibition against using the money for stock buybacks, he said.

The party also included protection for union contracts, Casey said.

Mirror Staff Writer William Kibler is at 949-7038.­

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