Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is calling for a massive new round of federal aid to combat the coronavirus epidemic, totaling $750 billion. This would be the third coronavirus relief bill passed by the U.S. Congress.
The first bill was passed almost two weeks ago, which allocated $8.3 billion to be dispersed to agencies tackling the crisis, such as the Center for Disease Control and Department of Health and Human Services, to expand diagnosis efforts, purchase protective material like facemasks, and give aid to localities already in distress. The Trump administration originally asked for only $2.5 billion, but congressional Democrats, led by Schumer, demanded the number be higher.
The second aid bill passed the House of Representatives on Friday and is currently being renegotiated in the senate. The price tag for this proposal is unknown, since the process has moved to quickly for the Congressional Budget Office to determine a number.
For businesses that employ less than five-hundred people, the bill provides paid family leave for individuals between two weeks and three months, depending on the situation. Republicans insisted this measure include a maximum expiration date of one year. The bill guarantees free testing for the coronavirus for all Americans, including the uninsured. Finally, it allocates a billion dollars each to federal food assistance programs and state unemployment insurance.
Senator Schumer’s home state of New York will receive $750 million a month once that bill passes the senate. This will be critical, as the state, and specifically, New York City, could see massive layoffs of service workers who are unable to keep their jobs during government-enforced closures.
While the first bill aided emergency infrastructure, and the second bill aided welfare programs, Schumer’s proposal would put money “directly into hands of American people.”
“We will need big, bold, urgent federal action to deal with this crisis. The kinds of targeted measures we are putting together will mainline money into the economy and directly into the hands of families that need it most,” Senator Schumer said.
“Importantly, this proposal will also ensure our medical professionals have all the resources—including physical space and equipment—they need to provide treatment and keep Americans safe, among other people-focused initiatives,” he continued.
The liberal Democrat might find help from a surprising place. “Every American adult should immediately receive $1,000 to help ensure families and workers can meet their short-term obligations and increase spending in the economy,” said Senator Mitt Romney of Utah, the Republican Party’s 2012 presidential nominee.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said in response that Republicans were already thinking ahead to the next legislative action, although provided no details on Schumer’s $750 billion idea.
Hunter DeRensis is the senior reporter for the National Interest. Follow him on Twitter @HunterDeRensis.
Image: U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, (D-NY) attends a news briefing of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at the City Hall in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., March 14, 2020. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz