AP Photo/Andrew Harni Mitch McConnell
AP Photo/Andrew Harni

The bill includes a $1,200 check for most Americans, expanded unemployment benefits, plus substantial help for small businesses, hospitals, and corporations.

The U.S. Senate passed the largest stimulus bill in American history on Wednesday, enacting a $2.2 trillion emergency relief package to help address the growing economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic. The Labor Department announced Thursday that 3.3 million people applied for unemployment benefits last week, up from 282,000 during the previous week.

The bill, which passed by a 96-0 vote, now heads to the House, which is expected to pass it by a voice vote on Friday. 

Here’s a quick summary of the most important measures in the final law:

For Individuals

  • A one-time (non-taxable) $1,200 check for every American earning up to $75,000 who filed a tax return in 2018 or 2019. Couples filing jointly will receive $2,400 and households will receive an additional $500 for each child under 17. Those earning between $75,000 and $99,000 will receive smaller checks, while those earning above $99,000 will not qualify for any aid. You can calculate your estimated check over at the Washington Post.
  • The bill will increase the maximum unemployment benefit by an additional $600 per week for up to four months, on top of the average unemployment check, which varies from state to state, but averages $385 per week. The benefit will also be expanded to cover self-employed individuals, contractors, and gig workers, such as Uber and Lyft drivers, too. It also expands unemployment insurance to those who want to work but are sick or caring for a sick family member.
  • Students with federal loans can suspend their payments until Sept. 30 without incurring any interest. Any students who are forced to drop out of school because of the coronavirus can also defer loans during that time. 

For Small Businesses

  • Small businesses with 500 or fewer employees can take out loans of up to $10 million and employers can use the money to pay employees earning up to $100,000 per year as part of the bill’s $377 billion small business loan program. Companies that keep workers on payroll will be eligible for a 50% payroll tax credit.

For Hospitals

  • The bill provides $100 billion for hospitals to purchase personal protective equipment, ventilators, and anything else they need to combat the coronavirus. The measure also includes another $80 billion for health spending, which will go in part towards tele-health services and community health centers.

For Corporations

  • The bill sets aside more than $500 billion for corporate loans, loan guarantees, and investments for “severely distressed industries,’ including $58 billion for airlines.
  • Companies are banned from buying back stocks for as long as they receive aid, as well as a year afterwards. 
  • Companies owned by President Trump, White House officials or members of Congress cannot receive loans.
  • Disbursed loans will be made public within two weeks and will be overseen by an inspector general watchdog within the Treasury Department.
  • Qualifying businesses who keep workers on payroll during the pandemic can receive a tax credit for half of what they spend on wages, up to $5,000 per worker.

For States and Local Governments

  • The bill includes $150 billion for communities, who can use the funds for various reasons, including to fund public health efforts to combat the coronavirus. 
  • The bill also allocates $400 million for states to protect voters from the virus and help expand vote-by-mail voting.