Senate reaches coronavirus stimulus deal including ‘unemployment insurance on steroids’

The Senate and White House finally have a deal for the next phase of coronavirus response. The $2 trillion package was announced before 1 AM ET, with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer calling it “the largest rescue package in American history” in his remarks on the Senate floor. This agreement only emerged after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell wasted 10 days of response time and Democrats twice refused to sign on to a Republican bill that was a major giveaway to large corporations, with Trump’s Treasury Department giving out the funds with almost no oversight.

The new agreement still contains $500 billion for big business, $50 billion of it to the airline industry, but there will now be an oversight board and an inspector general to be sure the money is used appropriately—and Trump family companies, along with companies owned by other top government officials and members of Congress, won’t be eligible for loans. Democrats made gains in other areas of the plan, as well.

While the agreement includes only one-time payments of $1,200 per adult, $2,400 to couples making up to $150,000 and phasing out at higher income levels, and an extra $500 per child, it includes what Schumer on Tuesday called “unemployment insurance on steroids.” Workers who lose their jobs due to the pandemic will get a $600 per week add-on to their states’ regular unemployment insurance, and self-employed and gig workers will be included—a critical addition. The increased unemployment benefits will last for four months.

In addition to $250 billion for direct payments to individuals and $250 billion for the expanded unemployment, the deal includes $367 billion for small business loans, $130 billion for hospitals hit hard by the pandemic, and $150 billion for state and local governments struggling to pay for coronavirus response.

The Senate reconvenes at noon and is expected to vote Wednesday, but the exact time of the vote hasn’t yet been announced.

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