Since this past Monday (March 16), which marked the beginning of the federal government’s “15 Days to Slow the Spread” initiative, rumors have run rampant about the actual state of the country as COVID-19, the emerging strain of coronavirus, continues to spread through the population. One trend that is emerging is that a lot of people face two weeks or more without pay and might not have jobs to which they can return.

A call has emerged from many in and outside of government for a stimulus plan to provide funds directly to Americans, and Congress and President Trump have responded with several versions of benefits packages that provide everything from checks in the mail to military hospitals for those infected with the coronavirus[1].

What is not clear is what is actually in the proposed stimulus bill, which Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has warned will keep Congress in session until something is passed.

“Obviously, we need to act,” he said earlier this week. Many Senate republicans object to a House-passed bill that would provide sick pay, emergency food, and free testing, but McConnell’s recommendation is that all senators “gag, and vote for it anyway.”

The House & the President Have a Bill in Hand

President Trump joined forces with recurring adversary House Speaker Nancy Pelosi over the weekend to pass a bill that would provide:

  • Free testing for the virus
  • Paid sick and family leave
  • Strengthened unemployment insurance
  • Unemployment benefits
  • Protection for first responders
  • Increased food aid[2]

It is this bill with which the Senate is currently grappling. One of the biggest issues detractors see is that it is extremely expensive.

“We’ve put a proposal on the table that would attract a trillion dollars into the economy,” observed U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin.

Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle say they are concerned the funds will go to big corporations instead of the workers directly affected by the outbreak.

Although the president appears to be on board with the House proposal, there are many republicans concerned that it is too general and too far-reaching.

“Right now, the plan around here is to basically just start shoveling money out of a helicopter,” said senator Ben Sasse, a republican representative from Nebraska. “This is a bad idea.”

Do you think a coronavirus bailout is a good idea?

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