Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

Senate Agrees to $2 Trillion Stimulus Package

Politics
An ambulance sits outside the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC, on March 23, 2020, as the Senate negotiated a relief package in response to the outbreak of COVID-19. SAUL LOEB / AFP via Getty Images

In the predawn hours, U.S. Senators struck a deal to try to salvage the economy from the novel coronavirus. The enormous $2 trillion package is designed to protect workers, families and businesses from the costly effects of needing to shut down businesses to protect communal health.


Marathon negotiations led to the agreement, which dwarfs the $800 billion stimulus passed during the 2008 financial crisis. This new stimulus bill is one of the most expensive and far-reaching in American history, according to The New York Times.

"This is not a moment of celebration — but of necessity," said Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, as CNN reported.

The agreement will send money directly to most Americans. Under the plan, $250 billion will be for direct payments to individuals and families, $350 billion in small business loans, $250 billion in unemployment insurance benefits, and $500 billion in loans for distressed companies, according to CNN.

The bill will send $1,200 to most Americans and $2,400 to married couples earning less than $150,000. It will also provide $500 for each child. The payments will scale down by income, phasing out entirely for individuals who make more than $99,000 and joint filers without children earning over $198,000, as CNN reported.

The bill will also help people who have lost their jobs due to the novel coronavirus. As The Washington Post reported, unemployment claims have spiked, inundating a system ill-equipped to handle a deluge of applicants. The stimulus package will increase unemployment insurance benefits, expand eligibility and offer workers an additional $600 a week for four months on top of what state unemployment programs currently pay.

"It will put money into the hands of those who need it so much, because they have lost their jobs through no fault of their own," said Schumer, as the Los Angeles Times reported.

"This legislation is urgently needed to bolster the economy, provide cash injections and liquidity and stabilize financial markets to get us through a difficult and challenging period in the economy facing us right now," said Larry Kudlow, President Donald Trump's chief economic adviser, at a White House briefing on Tuesday, as CNN reported.

One of the sticking points that torpedoed the previous stimulus package was the $500 billion that will be allotted for distressed companies. Under the previous bill, the Treasury had the discretion to disburse the funds without needing to disclose for up to six months which companies got taxpayer dollars, as the Los Angeles Times reported.

The new bill, which will still provide payments to many large polluters, with 10 percent of it going to airlines, will now have oversight for how the money is allotted, according to CNN. The Trump administration agreed to an oversight board and the creation of an inspector general position to review how the money is spent.

"Every loan document will be public and made available to Congress very quickly, so we can see where the money is going, what the terms are and if it's fair to the American people," Schumer said on the Senate floor Wednesday, according to The Washington Post.

The bill is expected to pass the Senate around noon and then has to go to the House, which is not in session. Some House Democrats have already expressed reservations about it.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) tweeted that despite "vague statements," no one had seen text of the legislation that "seems to give a *HALF TRILLION DOLLARS* away to big corporations, w/ few worker protections."

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Aerial picture showing fires burning in Brazil's Amazon rainforest on August 23, 2019. Carl de Souza / AFP / Getty Images

The number of forest fires in Brazil's Amazon rainforest increased 28% in July in comparison to last year, the country's National Institute for Space Research reported Saturday.

Read More Show Less
A plane drops fire retardant over a home as the Apple Fire burns during the coronavirus pandemic on Aug. 1, 2020 in Cherry Valley, California. Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Southern California's first major wildfire this year has devoured more than 20,000 acres since Friday and forced thousands to flee their homes in the midst of a pandemic.

Read More Show Less
Water trickles down a hillside among moss next to the entrance to the Svalbard Global Seed Vault during a summer heat wave as mountains behind stand devoid of snow on Svalbard archipelago on July 29 in Longyearbyen, Norway. Sean Gallup / Getty Images

By Johnny Wood

What better place to build a Doomsday Vault than the remote, snow-covered islands of Norway's Arctic Svalbard? Sitting around 1,000 kilometers from the North Pole, the facility is buried in permafrost to protect the precious seed samples housed there. But a freak heatwave is causing the region's ice to melt.

Read More Show Less
Tens of thousands of people attend a Black Lives Matter protest which was mainly peaceful on June 6 in London, United Kingdom. Phil Clarke Hill / In Pictures / Getty Images

As climate activists, we can't fight the climate crisis without considering the systemic impacts that environmental racism and White supremacy have on the frontline communities most affected by pollution and our warming world.

Read More Show Less
Whooping cranes fly in Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge in Decatur, Alabama. There were only 48 whooping cranes in the country when the Endangered Species Act was passed in 1973, and thanks to the law's protections there are now over 600. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

By Eoin Higgins

Environmental groups on Friday condemned the announcement of a new rule proposed by President Donald Trump that would further weaken the Endangered Species Act by making it easier to destroy habitats vulnerable species rely on for survival.

Read More Show Less
Students at the "Japon" public school number 72 attend class during the first day of the final phase of the gradual process to reopen schools on June 28 in Montevideo, Uruguay. Ernesto Ryan / Getty Images

By Bob Spires

As American school officials debate when it will be safe for schoolchildren to return to classrooms, looking abroad may offer insights. Nearly every country in the world shuttered their schools early in the COVID-19 pandemic. Many have since sent students back to class, with varying degrees of success.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Tara Moore / DigitalVision / Getty Images

By Danielle Nierenberg and Maya Osman-Krinsky

In the United States, over 2,000 acres of agricultural land are sold every day for housing or commercial development, according to the American Farmland Trust. This has especially affected Black farmers who, since 1920, have seen nearly a 90 percent decline in land ownership, according to the U.S. Census.

Read More Show Less