Congress Passes $2 Trillion COVID-19 Stimulus Bill

Congress has just approved a $2 Trillion stimulus bill to assist individuals, businesses and governmental authorities faced with economic hardship and uncertainty as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.  The bill was promptly signed into law by President Trump.  Here is a summary of the key components of the legislation:

Payments to Individuals and Families

The bill provides for direct payments by the federal government to all qualifying individuals in the United States.  Qualifying single individuals who earn up to $75,000 will be paid $1,200, married couples will receive $2,400, and additional payments would be made in the amount of $500 for each child.  The payment amounts are gradually reduced for individuals who earn between $75,000 and $99,000.  Individuals making more than $99,000 and couples who earn more than $198,000 do not qualify.

Loan and Funding Package for Key Industries and Businesses

The legislation also provides for approximately $500 billion in loans and funding for businesses and employers to be administered by the U.S. Department of Treasury.  The legislation earmarks a portion of the package for commercial airlines, air cargo carriers, and government contractors that perform work related to national defense.  The Department of Treasury will administer the remaining funds to businesses, and to state and local governments.  Businesses who receive loans pursuant to this program will be prohibited from issuing dividends for a certain time period and must maintain minimum employment levels through September 30.  The program will be subject to congressional oversight.  Federal elected officials and immediate family members will not be eligible for funding under this program.

Supplemental Unemployment Insurance

The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in an unprecedented spike in furloughs and layoffs which are expected to increase in the coming weeks.  To assist affected employees, the legislation provides for additional unemployment benefits of $600 per week for four months on top of whatever unemployment benefit payment the employee receives under existing state law.  In Illinois, the maximum unemployment benefit amount available to an unmarried individual is currently $471 per week. 

Additional Assistance for Airline Industry

In this particularly hard-hit industry, airports and airlines are also eligible for $32 billion in grants to pay wages and benefits to employees.  The legislation will include additional restrictions on airlines and airports who receive government aid, including prohibitions on pay cuts, stock buybacks and limits on executive compensation. 

Relief for Hospitals and Healthcare Workers

The legislation sets aside at least $100 billion for hospitals and providers of emergency services for costs and reimbursement for lost revenue.  Medicare reimbursements for patients treated for the coronavirus will increase by 20%. 

Student Loan Payments Suspended

The U.S. Department of Education has temporarily halted student loan repayment obligations.  Individuals with student loans may choose to delay student loan payments without penalty until September 30. 

Evictions and Foreclosure Protections for Homeowners and Renters

Due to the sudden economic downturn and increased layoffs, the new law would provide relief for individuals and families faced with mortgage foreclosure or eviction.  Property owners with federally backed mortgages who are suffering financial hardship due to the pandemic will benefit from a 60-day halt on foreclosures. The bill also does not allow fees, penalties or additional interest to be charged as a result of delayed payments.  Property owners who receive federally backed mortgage loans would not be allowed to evict tenants for failing to pay rent for a 120-day period or charge fees or penalties for non-payment.

Food Assistance

An additional $450 million will be made available for food banks and food distribution programs that serve families and individuals facing financial hardship.

Americans Abroad, Peace Corps and Refugees

The State Department will receive $324 million dollars to aid efforts to return American citizens stranded abroad to the United States.  The bill also increases funding for the U.S. Peace Corps., international disaster relief, refugee assistance and other programs.

For questions about the bill or for more information about how it might affect your business, contact your SFBBG attorney or e-mail us at [email protected].

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