Senate vote expected on massive stimulus package

Local News

Lawmakers are putting the finishing touches on a $2 trillion stimulus package to deal with the coronavirus pandemic — the largest in U.S. history.

“This could be a pretty large chunk of money coming to individuals depending on what your income is,” said Steven Elwell, chief investment officer with Level Financial Services in Amherst.

Included in the deal, direct payments designed to pump money directly into Americans’ pockets.

Single Americans would receive $1,200, married couples would get $2,400 — and parents would see $500 for each child under age 17.

“That obviously will help people bridge the gap a little bit between this lockdown, and maybe they’re temporarily laid off, or out of work, or making less,” said Elwell.

The payment would scale down by income, phasing out entirely at $99,000 for singles and $198,000 for married couples without children.

“As an example, if your income was exactly between $75,000 and $98,000 for an individual — if you were right in the middle of that, then you would expect to get about half of what the check would normally be. So, instead of getting $1,200, you might get $600,” Elwell explained.

Congress and the White House hope to have those direct payments in people’s hands by early April.

The stimulus deal also includes $250 billion in unemployment benefits — a significant boost by expanding eligibility and offering workers an additional $600 a week for four months.

“Obviously that’s going to be helpful for anyone who’s in that situation to be able to weather this storm while we wait for lockdown to end, and to beat the virus where we get back to the point where the economy is in a more normal state,” Elwell said.

There’s also money for distressed companies in the form of loans, along with billions of dollars in financial assistance for hard hit hospitals, plus $150 billion for local, state and tribal governments.

Some financial analysts think this could be just the first infusion of cash necessary to stabilize a rocky economy.

“If this lasts longer than what we originally thought it might, then it’s likely that some of these financial measures might be looked at again,” Elwell said.

Lawmakers are still tinkering with language in the bill.

The Senate is aiming to vote on the massive infusion of money possibly as early as Wednesday night.  

There’s no word on how or when the House would take it up once it makes through the Senate.

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