WASHINGTON (AP) – Democrats controlling the House have unveiled a $3 trillion-plus coronavirus relief bill – the fifth coronavirus response legislation so far – and are planning to pass the measure on Friday. The legislation replenishes existing accounts to respond to both the COVID-19 health care crisis and to try to ease the economic impact of the pandemic, which has produced record job losses and fears of a depression.
Here are highlights of the Democratic bill:
FISCAL AID TO STATES AND LOCAL GOVERNMENTS
The Democratic bill provides more than $900 billion to states ($500 billion), local governments ($375 billion), as well as Indian tribes and territorial governments ($40 billion) to help prevent layoffs of public workers, cuts to services, or tax hikes.
Adds a second round of direct payments to individuals and makes those benefits more generous than an earlier round, which limited payments for dependent children to $500. Instead, it provides new payments of $1,200 per family member, up to $6,000 for a household.
HAZARD PAY FOR ESSENTIAL WORKERS
Creates a $200 billion â€œheroes fundâ€ that would provide a â€œhazard payâ€ supplement for essential workers such as first responders, health care workers, sanitation workers, and those at businesses required to stay open.
Extends a $600 per week federal unemployment benefits supplemental payment through January, 2021, instead of cutting it off at the end of July.
Provides $25 billion for the cash-strapped U.S. Postal Service, which is expected to run out of money by the end of September without congressional aid because itâ€™s losing so much revenue during the pandemic. The measure also would repeal several restrictions on a $10 billion line of credit for the Postal Service authorized in a previous economic rescue bill.
Provides $175 billion to states to help renters and homeowners pay mortgages, rent, and other housing costs and avoid default, with much of the money aimed at lower-income people.
Provides $15 billion for state transportation departments for highway needs and $16 billion to mass transit systems hit by a massive drop-off of ridership and lower income from fares.
Dedicates $100 billion to states, school districts, and universities to defray additional costs associated with the pandemic.
TESTING/AID TO HEALTH PROVIDERS
Provides $75 billion on top of earlier outlays to test for the coronavirus, perform contact tracing to track its spread, and treatment for COVID-19. Adds another $100 billion for hospitals and other health care providers.
PRIVATE HEALTH INSURANCE
Provides subsidies for laid off workers to remain on their employer-provided health insurance plans through so-called COBRA benefits and creates an open enrollment period to sign up for â€œObamacareâ€ policies on state and federal health insurance exchanges.