HOUSE ADDS UNRELATED PROVISIONS: TPA Update on Coronavirus Stimulus Negotiations

Ross Marchand

March 23, 2020

There’s no shortage of drama on Capitol Hill today after Democrats blocked the GOP-proposed coronavirus relief package from advancing on Sunday so they could push for personal pet projects and subsidies to special interest groups completely unrelated to the coronavirus response. Last night, the Senate held a procedural vote designed to advance a placeholder “shell” bill whose text could then be replaced by the actual relief package unveiled on Friday by the Senate GOP (and shaped by subsequent negotiations with Congressional Democrats). But Democratic leadership led by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) balked at the $1.6 trillion relief package and made demands that would further increase the size of the spending bill. In addition to more spending for financial relief from the coronavirus, The Washington Times is reporting that the House is also requesting that solar tax credits be included in the legislation. Democratic Majority Whip Clyburn went so far as to admit these provisions were ideological, and had nothing to do with the Coronavirus response, saying, “this is a tremendous opportunity to restructure things to fit our vision.”

Below, the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) summarizes the most significant provisions proposed by Republicans, as well as Democrats’ demands:

Here are the largest components of the GOP-proposed Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act:

  • $500 billion in relief geared toward businesses, states, and cities coordinated through the U.S. Treasury, including $58 billion in aid to U.S. airlines. 
  • $350 billion for Small Business Interruption Loans, which would provide temporary relief to businesses with fewer than 500 employees. These loans could be forgiven if business do not lay their employees off; loan forgiveness decreases as employees are laid off. 
  • $300 billion in direct relief for individuals and families. Individuals making up to $75,000 per year would receive a $1,200 refundable tax credit (i.e. check in the mail), followed by a phase-out for higher-income taxpayers. Joint filers would receive a $2,400 rebate that would begin to phase out for couples earning more than $150,000 per year. Each child results in an increased payment of $500. 
  • $250 billion for expanded unemployment insurance, including a weekly federal allocation of $600 to supplement unemployed persons’ usual allowances. Currently, the maximum weekly unemployment benefit varies by state and previous income. In Maryland, for instance, the current maximum is $430 per week.
  • $100 billion for hospitals. 
  • Six-month reprieve from having to pay federally provided student loans, including a reprieve from interest accrued during that period. 

In a last-minute move, Democratic leadership released their own legislation with demands including:

  • $20 billion bailout of the chronically-mismanaged U.S. Postal Service. 
  • $850 million in rerouted Social Security funds to finance childcare services and establish temporary childcare facilities. 
  • Loan forgiveness for student loans, up to $10,000 per student.
  • Stronger “worker protection” (i.e. pro-union) language.
  • Greater funding for hospitals, health centers, including more taxpayer dollars spent on coronavirus testing.

The package released by Congressional Democrats totals nearly $2 trillion, including an “ideological wish list” consisting of the aforementioned demands. TPA has a host of suggestions on how the federal government can assist businesses and households during this exceptionally difficult time. Be sure to visit our website protectingtaxpayers.org for further updates.