Early today, Wednesday , March 25th , the White House came to an initial agreement with the U.S. Senate on a nearly $2 trillion emergency bill that aims to counter some of the economic toll of the coronavirus pandemic. [NOTE: Notwithstanding, the total stimulus/support package from the government will total some $6 trillion, composed of: $4 trillion in liquidity from the Federal Reserve and $2 trillion in new money from the legislative act]. The provisions that will likely be in the final package must pass both a Republican-controlled Senate and the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives before going to President Donald Trump for his signature (at best in a couple of days).
SUMMARY of KEY ELEMENTS: (Final numbers may not be precise)
– About $500 billion in direct payments to people, in two waves of checks of up to $1,200 for an individual earning up to $75,000 a year. Additional payments for families with children could push the total to $3,000 for a family of four, according to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who has played a key role in the negotiations.
– Up to $500 billion in “liquidity assistance” for distressed industries [How this applies, if at all, to the design/construction community is not entirely clear]. The amount allocates up to $61 billion for passenger and cargo airlines and contractors, including $32 billion in grants and $29 billion in loans. [REPORTED: Senior administration officials said there was agreement the $500 billion fund should have an inspector general as well as an oversight board. Also, the Treasury secretary would have to provide testimony to the board on transactions, and there would be restrictions on things like stock buybacks and chief executive pay at companies that received help].
– Some $350-$365 billion in loans to small businesses, to keep meeting payrolls of their employees. [Presumably, this would apply to the design/construction community meeting the small business size standard].
– Up to $130 billion for hospitals. [The number has floated between $75 billion and $130 billion].
– Some $250 billion for expanding unemployment insurance. [Presumably, this would cover design/construction employees meeting the criteria].
– Over $10 billion for drug development, and $4 billion for masks, gloves, gowns and ventilators.
– Possibly up to $150 billion for state and local governments.
– As much as $45.8 billion for federal agencies.
However, the WH–Senate agreement on key provisions does not guarantee House approval or even interest in passing the package. As has been widely reported, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) unveiled her own lengthy $2.5 trillion proposal on Monday (March 24), after she stalled an earlier attempt (on Sunday night) at getting bi-partisan agreement around the Senate version now coming into focus. The Pelosi package includes billions for what can be charitably described as not essential or fundamentally critical to address the potential / real impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and the collateral damage being done to the U.S. economy.