Senate Republicans vowed on Thursday to work through the weekend to approve a sweeping plan to boost the economy in the face of massive losses tied to the Coronavirus outbreak, as GOP leaders proposed direct payments to American families mixed with tax breaks for businesses and billions of dollars in emergency loans for the airline industry.
"This legislation is a significant next step," said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. "And the Senate is not going anywhere until we take action."
The GOP plan includes small business 'interruption loans,' direct payments to Americans - which are labeled 2020 'recovery rebates,' delays in employer payroll tax payments, estimated business tax payments, a variety of tax changes, a suspension of certain aviation taxes, and much more - all crammed into 247 page bill unveiled on Thursday afternoon.
"The time to act is now," said Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA).
"The economic uncertainty and potential global impact we are facing due to the coronavirus pandemic are unprecedented,” said Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL).
Of most interest were the details of the GOP plan for one-time payments from Uncle Sam, all designed to immediately put money into the pockets of Americans.
The checks would start at $1,200 for an individual - $2,400 for a couple.
Those figures would begin to be reduced at income levels of $75,000 / $150,000 - and phase out entirely by $99,000 / $198,000.
Your eligibility for a check would be determined not by your adjusted gross income in 2019, but instead in 2018.
Here is how it was described in language released on Thursday by Senate Republicans:
The Republican plan was to push ahead with this package - which was expected to cost around $1 trillion - and hold a Senate vote at some point this weekend, or early next week.
Democrats were not on board, as they have their own set of legislative wish list items, including expanded unemployment insurance, extra Medicaid health resources for the states, an expansion of paid sick and family leave benefits, and more.
Democratic leaders also made clear that if the federal government is going to help the airlines, cruise lines, hotel industry, and others - then those companies will have to accept some greater regulations in the future.
"To earn Democratic support in the Congress, any economic stimulus proposal must include new, strong and strict provisions that prioritize and protect workers, such as banning the recipient companies from buying back stock, rewarding executives, and laying off workers," Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said in a joint statement.
While Republicans talked about moving this bill at "warp speed" through the Congress, that seemed unlikely.
"We are beginning to review Senator McConnell’s proposal and on first reading, it is not at all pro-worker and instead puts corporations way ahead of workers," Schumer and Pelosi said on Thursday night.
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