House Approves $2 Trillion COVID-19 Stimulus Package

The United States House of Representatives approved a $2 trillion stimulus bill March 27 as a response to the impact of COVID-19.

The bill, called the CARES ACT, is being sent to the White House for approval. If approved, it will put into law the biggest stimulus bill in U.S. history. It is anticipated to soften the harsh impact of the sudden shutdown of the U.S. economy due to stay-at-home orders from state and local governments.

The Senate voted 96-0 to pass the bill on March 25. This stimulus package is a matter of survival, said Matthew Shay, president and chief executive officer of the National Retail Federation, a Washington D.C.–based trade group.

“Retailers are encouraged by the House's quick passage of the CARES Act, which will provide critical financial relief for American workers, families and small businesses impacted by the coronavirus outbreak. The unprecedented time requires extraordinary measures,” Shay said. “The economic relief package provides a crucial bridge for the millions of American retail businesses and the retail jobs that will help support the U.S. economy through this challenging time."

As part of the package, the U.S. Treasury Department will be able to provide $500 billion in loans, loan guarantees and investments to businesses ranging from airlines to mid-sized businesses, which are defined as employing 500 to 10,000 employees. The Small Business Administration is anticipated to have $350 billion in loans to distribute to small businesses. Unemployed workers could get an extra $600 a week for four months on top of state benefits.

The bill would also give benefits to people who are not fully employed, people who are unemployed because of the fallout from the epidemic and those who haven’t qualified for unemployment insurance in the past such as independent contractors and gig economy workers. It creates a $100 billion public-health and social-emergency fund for expenses and lost revenues related to the coronavirus pandemic. About $65 billion will go to hospitals, with the rest funneled to doctors, nurses, suppliers and others.