Congress

Senate Passes $2 Trillion Stimulus Bill

Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., and Sen. Doug Jones, D-Ala.

The Senate late Thursday night voted 96-0 to pass at $2 trillion coronavirus relief bill.

Both of Alabama’s senators voted for the bill. Members of the House of Representatives have been called back to Washington to take up the bill Friday morning.

Alabama Sen. Doug Jones, a Democrat, said in a video posted to twitter Wednesday night that the bill wasn’t perfect, but it did include a lot of good things for the state.

“I think this is going to help a lot of people go a long way,” he said.

The bill would allocate more than $500 billion in programs to help corporations and businesses weather and recover from the economic downturn; and billions more in programs to boost unemployment payments, bolster hospitals, health care and first responders, send checks to many Americans and support state and local governments.

“We have to do things to get money in people’s hands quickly, and this was the best way to do that,” Jones said.

Jones said this would not be the last things Congress does to help during the pandemic. And it won’t be the last thing people are asked to do. He asked people to take the risk seriously and protect themselves, because that’s the only way Americans can stop spread of the virus.

“This is gonna get worse before it gets better. … But we can get through this. We can do those things necessary,” Jones said.

He said the virus would not be defeated by Easter, as President Trump had hoped. “It’s just not going to happen … . We’ve got to make sure we do it right.”

Alabama Sen. Richard Shelby, a Republican, said the bill would help state and local governments that are in desperate need while grappling with the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This comprehensive package will bring much-needed relief for the people of Alabama and our nation during this mounting emergency,” Shelby said in a statement posted to Twitter. “I am glad we have finally been able to advance these resources and help protect Americans throughout the country. I am confident that this legislation will pave the way for us to overcome the current economic and public health crisis we are facing, allowing us to emerge stronger on the other side.”

Shelby in his press release detailed provisions in the bill he said would affect Alabama:

  • $150 billion for State and Local Governments;
  • $45 billion for the FEMA Disaster Relief Fund;
  • $1.5 billion for State and Local Preparedness Grants;
  • $3.5 billion for Child Care Development Block Grants;
  • $250 million for Hospital Preparedness;
  • $100 billion for Reimbursements for Health Care Providers;
  • $30.75 billion for the Education Stabilization Fund;
  • $400 million for First Responder Grants;
  • $10 billion for Airport Improvements Grants;
  • $1.5 billion for Economic Development Administration Grants;
  • $450 million for the Emergency Food Assistance Program;
  • $350 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program;
  • $349 billion for Small Business Administration Loan Guarantees;
  • $425 million for Mental and Behavioral Health Services;
  • $265 million for Small Business Grants for Counseling, Training, and Related Assistance;
  • $300 million for Fishery Disaster Assistance;
  • $850 million for Byrne JAG Grants; and
  • $23.5 billion for Support for Agricultural Producers.

Shelby pointed out that this is the third relief bill taken up by Congress. A bill passed March 5 provides $8.3 billion to prevent, prepare for and respond to the coronavirus; another bill passed March 18 provides flexibility for the departments of treasury and labor to assist small businesses, establishes emergency paid family and medical leave for those affected, and increases unemployment benefits and food aid.