The House and Senate passed H.R. 748, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act this week. This is the third piece of legislation to pass Congress in response to the coronavirus global pandemic. The first bill Congress passed provided $8.3B in emergency coronavirus funding and was enacted into law on March 6 (P.L. 116-123). The second bill, H.R. 6201, the $2.5B Families First Coronavirus Response Act, was signed into law on March 18 (P.L. 116-127).
The Senate passed H.R. 748 on Wednesday by a vote of 96-0. The four Senators not voting either tested positive for coronavirus or were self-quarantined because of exposure to someone: Sens. Lee (R-UT), Paul (R-KY), Romney (R-UT), and Thune (R-SD). While the vote was unanimous, negotiators spent several days working out a deal between the Senate, the House and the administration. And during floor consideration, Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) offered an amendment that would have capped unemployment benefits at a person’s previous average pay. The Senate voted 48-48, falling short of the 60-vote threshold needed to pass the amendment. If Sasse had succeeded with his amendment, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) threatened to ask for an amendment that would tighten restrictions on companies that received government funds in the bill.
The House then passed the bill by voice vote today, but the vote followed a chaotic 24-hour scramble in which hundreds of lawmakers had to quickly return to DC to block a single Republican lawmaker from holding up the bill. Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) asked for a recorded vote on H.R. 748, but was denied as there was an insufficient number of members of Congress requesting the recorded vote. Massie then objected and raised a point of order that a quorum was not present. The chair ruled that a quorum was present and the voice vote passing the bill was upheld.
The bill will provide Americans who earned less than $75,000 (single) or $150,000 (married) a one-time payout of $1200 (single) or $2400 (married). In addition, they are eligible for an additional $500 per child. The rebate amount is reduced by $5 for each $100 that a taxpayer’s income exceeds $75,000 ($150,000 married). The amount is completely phased-out for single filers with incomes exceeding $99,000, $146,500 for head of household filers with one child, and $198,000 for joint filers with no children. For the vast majority of Americans, no action on their part will be required in order to receive a rebate check as the IRS will use a taxpayer’s 2019 tax return if filed, or in the alternative, their 2018 return. The bill also provides unemployed individuals with an additional $600 a week for four months on top of their regular unemployment compensation.
The bill also provides $500B for distressed businesses. However, there are some restrictions on this funding including limits on executive pay, a ban on stock buybacks, a ban on outsourcing, and requirements that companies honor collective bargaining agreements and stay neutral on any union organization efforts.
The President is expected to sign the bill later today.
Senate Appropriations Committee Summary (Republicans)
Senate Appropriations Committee Summary (Democrats)
Unemployment Insurance Section-By-Section
Health Policy Section-By-Section
Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee Section-by-Section
Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee One Pager