By Gwendolyne Honrud
The Courier 

Relief Package Signed by President

 


After much partisan fighting and negotiations, President Donald Trump signed a coronavirus relief package March 27 intended to provide economic assistance for people and businesses across the country. The $2 trillion Covid-19 Phase 3 rescue package is the most expensive bill in U.S. history. The bill will provide $300 billion in financial aid for small businesses; $150 billion for local and state governments, and individual direct payments; and $130 billion for hospitals.

Direct payments are expected to be issued by the government starting as early as April 6. Individuals making less than $75,000 are eligible for a maximum of $1,200 and couples making less than $150,000 will be eligible for a maximum amount of $2,400 with $500 per child available. Restrictions in the bill may limit who receives payments and how much will be issued to those individuals. Unemployment insurance maximum benefits were also increased to $600 per week so that laid-off workers (on average) will receive full pay for four months.


The bill also set aside funds for small business loans, in part to cover payroll expenses, funds to cover existing SBA loans and funds for grants for small businesses to cover operating expenses. For rural communities, $100 million was allocated for improvements to broadband service.

In the bill, $185 million was designated for support to rural critical access hospitals, tribal health and telehealth programs, as well as poison control centers. Through the USDA Rural Development program, an additional $25 million was set aside to improve access to distance learning and telemedicine. Community health centers will receive $1.3 billion to continue their operations through the end of November of this year. In addition, $200 million will go to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services specifically for assisting nursing homes with infection control.

Thirty-one billion dollars will go to education, with $13.5 billion going to state governments to distribute to local schools and programs. Social programs will see $3.5 billion in grants for child care and early education programs and $1 billion in grants for local economic issues. Community Development Block Grants will receive funds so state and local governments can expand health facilities, child care services, food banks and senior services.

Through USDA, $9.5 billion will be provided to aid to agriculture producers impacted by the outbreak, $8.8 billion for child nutrition programs, and $450 million for the Emergency Food Assistance Program. The Commodity Credit Corporation will see $14 billion to replenish the program which stabilizes, supports and protects farm income and prices. Ag producers with commodity marketing assistance loans will receive a temporary three-month extension on repayments. The Foreign Agriculture Service, which promotes and develops export markets, will also receive $4 million.


 

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