COVID-19: Historic Coronavirus Relief Package Enacted
On Wednesday, March 25, a historic, bipartisan deal was reached in the Senate to offer $2 trillion in health care and economic relief to Americans and businesses amid the ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act (H.R. 748) is a massive aid package containing a combination of funding for public health programs, tax benefits for businesses and individuals, appropriations for government programs supporting coronavirus relief efforts, and other items to help stabilize the economy.
Senators worked through the bill at breakneck speed, negotiating the final package in just four days. Those talks took place at the highest levels, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) sharing proposals between each other and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on behalf of the Trump administration. While some senators objected to certain aspects of the bill, such as the provisions covering unemployment benefits or corporate stabilization, the massive relief package passed by a remarkable 96-0 vote.
The House met on Friday, March 27, to consider the CARES Act. Remarkably, the chamber allowed the bill to pass by voice vote despite the $2 trillion price tag. A large number of members were unable to return to D.C. for a vote, either having themselves tested positive for COVID-19 or are in self-quarantine after coming into contact with someone who tested positive. That, coupled with the overwhelmingly bipartisan Senate vote and support from President Donald Trump, made the decision to decline a roll call vote necessary to get relief to individuals and businesses without further delay.
President Trump signed the bill into law (PL. 116-136) the same day.
The K&L Gates Public Policy & Law practice group has been assisting clients with provisions in the bill and monitoring related policy developments, and the firm’s lawyers and government relations professionals are working with clients on the implementation of government policies and legislation enacted to address the coronavirus pandemic. Should you have any questions regarding specific provisions in the bill, or other policies enacted by federal or state governments in response the pandemic, please email Darrell Conner, Karishma Page, Lauren Flynn, or Kathleen Nicholas.
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