Congress to negotiate coronavirus stimulus package through the weekend

As Senate leaders met in Washington, negotiating over the proposed $1 trillion coronavirus relief bill, Americans struggling to survive stay-at-home orders and social distancing said they need help soon.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced on Twitter that Tax Day would be delayed from April 15th to July 15th for all Americans, an action aimed to ease the financial troubles many people are facing.

In downtown Oakland, the streets show how California's statewide stay-at-home order is impacting people's pocketbooks.

"It's been difficult because I do child care and birth work. and so a lot of my work has been shut down for now," said Jourdan Sales, a doula in Oakland who says many hospitals are not allowing doulas to help clients deliver babies. She's trying to offer online advice services to get money.

"Find different ways that I can try to make ends meet," said Sales.

At a White House briefing Friday, President Trump indicated he's willing to work with Congress.

"I want to get workers money and I want to keep the businesses open because without the businesses they won't be getting money for very long," said President Trump.

Republicans in the Senate released a $1 trillion-plus economic recovery plan to speed direct payments of up to $1,200 to individuals, help small businesses stay afloat, and provide subsidized loans to the airlines and other industries distressed by the economic wreckage of the coronavirus epidemic, among other provisions.

Republicans also want $300 billion for small businesses to keep idled workers on payroll and $208 billion in loans to airlines and other industries impacted by the coronavirus shutdowns.

"The Senate is here, we are working, and we are going to deliver," said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Democrats want more checks for workers and unemployment insurance payouts, more aid to state governments, as well as a "Marshal Plan" to funnel funds to the health care industry for more workers and resources. 

"Leader McConnell's proposal does not do nearly enough to address the public health crisis," said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.

"We all need help at this time, you know what I mean, the little bit will help," said Dontae Moore, who lives in Oakland and has been working from home as a mentor in the public school system.

One problem in the Bay Area, is the number of independent contractors who might not benefit from the aid packages, according to Jesse Rothstein, UC Berkeley Professor of Public Policy and Economics who also serves as director of the Institute for Research on Labor and Employment (IRLE).

"We probably also have more independent contractors, where there's not really any way to cover them through our existing unemployment or paid leave programs, so it's going to be really hard to set up programs to support them," said Professor Rothstein.

Edmond Gaible is an educational consultant and his wife a costume designer. He says both are seeing work disappear

"Unemployment insurance does me nothing, because you konw, I'm a short-term consultant which means my jobs typically last 2 weeks to 6 months," said Gaible.

On Friday, the U.S. Treasury department posted details online detailing how small businesses can get help with payroll tax credits, paid scik leave and other aid approved last week in the Phase Two "Families First Coronavirus Relief" bill.

Here is a list by the AP with highlights of the proposed Phase Three bill:



Provides direct payments of up to $1,200 for individuals and $2,400 for couples making less than $75,000 and $150,000 respectively, with $500 per child. The credit would be gradually phased out for incomes exceeding $99,000 and $198,000. The "recovery rebates" would be limited to $600 ($1,200 for couples) for low-income families with little or no tax liability. The rebates would be delivered based on 2018 income. 

Permits penalty-free withdrawals of up to $100,000 from tax-deferred retirement accounts such as 401Ks to cover coronavirus-related expenses.

Extends the traditional April 15th tax filing deadline to July 15th and allows individuals required to make estimated tax payments to postpone them until October 15th.

Defers student loan payments and allows students who were forced to drop out of school due to coronavirus to keep their Pell grants.



Provides $300 billion for a generous loan program for small businesses that anticipates loans would be forgiven for employers who use them to meet payroll expenses. Other loans could be used for payroll, sick leave, mortgage payments, and other debt obligations. Eases rules in a just-enacted paid leave mandate for small businesses.

For larger businesses, the GOP plan would provide $208 billion for loans and loan guarantees to distressed sectors of the economy, including $50 billion for commercial airlines and $8 billion for air cargo carriers, and $150 billion for other eligible businesses, but those loans would have to be backed up by collateral and paid back. Unlike the airline bailout after the 9/11 attacks, there would not be direct cash grants to airlines. Allows businesses to defer payment of the 6.2% employer payroll tax. Businesses would also receive more generous rules for business deductions of losses and interest costs.



Locks into federal law a commitment from health insurers that coronavirus tests will be cost-free to policy holders. Requires coverage of coronavirus vaccines as a preventive service, at no cost to patients. Boosts Medicare payments for treating COVID-19 patients and suspends a 2% Medicare payment cut to health providers through the end of the year. Provides liability protection for manufacturers of respirators and other medical gear.