The U.S. House of Representatives passed a $2 trillion economic stimulus package Friday afternoon, which will now go to President Donald Trump’s desk for him to sign.
There was a last-second controversy Friday as Rep. Thomas Massie of Kentucky demanded House members be called back to Washington to vote in-person. Through politically maneuvering, the House was able to overrule Massie and pass the legislation after hours of debate.
The largest package in the country’s history, known as the CARES Act, would send $1,200 to individuals and $2,400 to couples filing jointly. For every child 16 or under, the payment would include another $500. Those payouts taper off for those with incomes above $75,000 and $150,00 for joint filers. Individuals who make $99,000 or more, and couples who make $198,000 or more, would not get a check. Those filing as head of household will get full payment if they earned $112,500 or less. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said the checks could arrive in three weeks for those with direct deposit set up with the IRS.
The bill also includes $260 billion in expanded unemployment benefits and $350 billion in new loans for small businesses. About $500 billion would go to large corporations, including $58 billion to the airline industry. Roughly $340 billion will be funneled to state and local governments. There are also funds going toward child nutrition, SNAP, food banks, and other programs.
Additionally, The CARES Act prohibits foreclosures and evictions for a period and pauses payments on federal student loans for six months.
Eligible unemployed workers would get $600 more per week for four months under the new bill in addition to the customary benefits from states. Benefits would extend to self-employed and part-time workers.
The Paycheck Protection Program provision incentivizes small- and medium-sized businesses to continue paying workers and providing benefits through partially forgivable loans to cover salaries, insurance, rent, and other costs.
Mark Allen, President & CEO of the International Foodservice Distributors Association, thanked Congress for passing the bill to help workers.
“Today, Congress took a very important step to provide much needed relief to American citizens and businesses during this unprecedented time," Allen said in a statement. "The CARES Act will help ease some of the economic devastation caused by COVID-19 by providing cash flow and liquidity to small businesses. We thank the leadership of the Congress and the President for coming together to act so quickly on this critical issue."
Allen said foodservice distributors will lose $24 billion in top line sales, receivables, and perishable inventory over the next three months due to the coronavirus crisis. The $303-billion industry distributes 8.7 billion cases of food and products annually and employs more than 350,000 people.
A record 3.28 million filed for unemployment in the week ending March 21, a large portion of which came from the foodservice industry, according to a report from the U.S. Department of Labor. The NYC Hospitality Alliance said Wednesday that 1,870 New York restaurants, bars, and nightclubs reported laying off or furloughing 67,650 employees since March 20.
Several restaurant companies have announced major furloughs or layoffs in the thousands including The Cheesecake Factory, Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group, Cameron Mitchell Restaurants, Landry’s, J. Alexander’s, Golden Corral, Luby’s, and Craftworks Holdings.
There have been more than 94,000 reported cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. and over 1,400 have died.