10 highlights from the coronavirus stimulus package

In case you didn’t have time while social distancing to review the entire bill, here’s a roundup

Tulips bloom on the East Plaza of the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Tuesday as the capital city was largely shutdown due to the coronavirus.  (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
Tulips bloom on the East Plaza of the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Tuesday as the capital city was largely shutdown due to the coronavirus. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
Posted March 25, 2020 at 8:02pm

Almost 900 pages make up the text for the package Congress hopes will boost the economy and relieve the country from the growing strain of the novel coronavirus.

In case you didn’t have time while social distancing to review the entire stimulus, we've rounded up the highlights here.

Pick your preferred pronunciation — Donald Trump or Bernie Sanders-style — of “billions and billions” and read aloud. But remember the scale of these matters as you interpret the staggering figures:

A person can count to a million in under two weeks, but it would take more than 30 years to count to one billion.

$139B to state and local governments

The bill stipulates that within 30 days of enactment the Treasury secretary shall distribute funds to state and local governments. Amounts going to each of the 50 states will be determined in proportion to the population, with no state government receiving less than $1.25 billion. Eligible local governments are defined as any governing body below the state level having more than 500,000 people under its purview. The inspector general of the Treasury is charged with conducting oversight of receipt and distribution.

Jacob Fischler has more.

$400M in grants for states to adjust elections

It's a drop in the ballot box bucket compared with estimates being bandied about. The Brennan Center for Justice estimates $2 billion is necessary for states to accommodate mail-in ballots and other measures that divert action from traditional precinct polling places. House Democrats initially proposed $4 billion in election assistance, while Senate Republicans proposed $140 million.

Bridget Bowman has the full story.

Airlines: $29B in loans, $29B in grants

In the end, the airlines got what they wanted, wrote CQ Roll Call’s Jessica Wehrman. Maybe especially Boeing. The company’s stocks jumped more than 30 percent in midday trading and stayed there as news circulated that the air carrier was poised to receive what some senators lambasted as a bailout. The bill designates $17 billion for businesses “critical to maintaining national security.” While no specific company is named, people familiar with the negotiations say it is meant for Boeing, a major U.S. defense contractor with lingering 737 Max problems in addition to the coronavirus struggles.

$100B to hospitals and health care providers

Nearly a third of the entire stimulus package will provide reimbursements and supplement lost revenue to hospitals, wrote Paul M. Krawzak. Another $27 billion will funnel to research and development around the vaccine, supervised by the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority of the Health and Human Services Department. However, more than half of that might go to replenishing national stockpiles of medical supplies, drugs and protective equipment.

$45B for FEMA

The Federal Emergency Management Agency Disaster Relief Fund will receive $45 billion. The funds are intended to help state and local efforts, including medical response and purchasing protective equipment. The breakdown includes:

  • $200 million for shelter, food and services
  • $100 million in grants to firefighters for protective equipment, supplies and reimbursements
  • $100 million for enhanced sanitation at airport security checkpoints and other airport costs

Krawzak again has the details.

$14B for farmers

The stimulus package gives the Agriculture Department up to $14 billion for the Commodity Credit Corporation to shore up losses, according to Ellyn Ferguson. The bill would also provide USDA $9.5 billion to combat economic effects of a COVID-19 downturn as states and localities close farmers markets and restaurants.

$10.5B for the Pentagon

The Defense Department funds being allocated split into six categories, writes Andrew Clevenger: personnel, operations and maintenance, purchasing, investment, health care and insurance coverage. The biggest slice of the pie goes to the Defense Health Program, which provides medical care to personnel, including active-duty troops and dependents. Another $1.1 billion is set aside for Tricare, the insurance program that oversees benefits for those people.

$950M to prisons

Yes, $950 million is a lot of money. But consider this: 0.7 percent of America is incarcerated, while the amount of money going to the prison system is less than 0.3 percent of the stimulus package released so far. Nevertheless, $100 million will go to correctional officer overtime, personal protective equipment and supplies, and inmate medical care and supplies, according to a Republican summary of the bill. Another $850 million is designated for state and local law enforcement and jails through a grant program, reports Todd Ruger.

$93M for legislators to legislate

Sanitizing the Capitol costs money, and so does shifting to remote work. So lawmakers are giving Legislative Branch operations $93 million, broken down like so:

  • House: $25M
  • Senate: $10M
  • Architect of the Capitol: $25M
  • Capitol Police: $12M
  • Government Accountability Office: $20M
  • Library of Congress: $700,000
  • Office of the Attending Physician: $400,000

Chris Marquette has the rest.

$13.50 per proof gallon

That’s right — no M, no B, just dollars and cents. As it stands, the current bill would waive federal excise tax paid by distillers on alcohol that they use to make hand sanitizer, according to a draft of the legislation circulating Wednesday.

Doug Sword has more odds and ends.

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Jacob Fischler, Jessica Wehrman, Bridget Bowman, Paul M. Krawzak, Ellyn Ferguson, Doug Sword, Todd Ruger, Andrew Clevenger and Chris Marquette contributed to this report.