On March 18, the Senate approved a House-passed coronavirus relief package bill that includes provisions for free testing for COVID-19 and paid emergency leave. President Trump signed the bill into law that evening.
The economic relief bill marks the second aid package passed in a matter of weeks. It provides paid sick and family leave for some U.S. workers impacted by the coronavirus as well as two weeks of paid sick leave for workers being tested or treated for coronavirus or diagnosed with the virus. Also eligible are those who have been told by a doctor or government official to stay home because of exposure or symptoms.
Payments will be capped at $511 a day, which is approximately the daily pay for someone with an annual salary of $133,000. Workers with family members affected by coronavirus and those whose children’s schools have closed will receive up to two-thirds of their pay, though that benefit will be limited to $200 a day.
The relief package expands unemployment assistance, includes nutrition assistance and increases resources for testing. A third, and even larger, relief measure totaling nearly $2 trillion was unanimously approved in the Senate late on March 25 and passed by the House on Friday, March 27.
The bill, which lawmakers are describing as “Phase III,” is the largest rescue package in U.S. history, according to NPR.
The legislation includes direct payments to American house- holds. Payments scale down as household income increases, and families will receive additional payments per child. The bill also includes expanded unemployment insurance programs, fund- ing for healthcare facilities and state and local governments, and loans for companies in distress and small businesses.
When signed by the Senate, provisions for small businesses included a $349 billion emergency loan program to maintain payroll, group health benefits, mortgage payments, utilities and other debt obligations. The loans would cover the period from February 15, 2020, through June 30, 2020, and the Small Busi- ness Administration would be given the authority to waive their regular credit checks.
President Trump is expected to sign the bill into law.