ST. PAUL — Lawmakers in Washington, D.C. have agreed on a $2 trillion federal stimulus and aid package to help Americans amid the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic crisis.
Following the U.S. Senate and House's approval, President Donald Trump signed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act into law on Friday, March 27. The U.S. House gave the package its final approval by a voice vote hours before on Friday.
With the United States now reporting the greatest number of positive COVID-19 cases in the world, the omnibus bill would provide direct payments of up to $1,200 to individual taxpayers, $2,400 for married couples, plus $500 for every eligible child to offset economic blows. It would also offer assistance to small businesses, bolster states' unemployment insurance programs and waive penalties for early retirement account withdrawals.
Rep. Jim Hagedorn, R-Minnesota, said in a statement following the vote that he supported the bill because it is "now, more than ever, crucial to put politics aside and instead place the well-being of Americans first."
“For so many Americans, life has been tilted on its axis due to the deep and fluid impact of the COVID-19 pandemic," he said. “Through the passing of this bipartisan legislation, we will have greater access to resources and tools to help deal with the coronavirus, minimize the loss of life, and reignite our economy and return millions of Americans back to work."
Across the aisle, Minnesota's Democratic Rep. Angie Craig said Friday's vote was a step toward relieving Americans who are losing their jobs, incomes, businesses, health and sometimes lives, but more work needs to be done.
“I’ve talked with the owners of small businesses who have taken out equity lines of credit to keep their businesses alive, nonprofits who are overextending themselves to meet the needs of their communities and families who don’t know if their internet will support their kids learning at home,” Craig said.
From South Dakota, Republican Rep. Dusty Johnson said he has heard from his constituents of the financial hardships endured since "the strongest economy in the world came to a halt." He said it's Congress's duty to take action.
"The price tag of acting is high, but the price of inaction is higher. During this time of uncertainty, America needs help and hope from its leadership. This bill provides both.”
North Dakota's Republican Rep. Kelly Armstrong also supported the bill. He said Americans have had to respond in "extraordinary and unprecedented ways in times of national crisis" previously, but this time, staying home and socially distancing has caused businesses to shutter and workers to lose their jobs.
"The American people didn't cause this crisis but are responding the way they always do by being smart, tough, and compassionate," he said. "We owe it to them to give them this support.”
As a public service, we’ve opened this article to everyone regardless of subscription status.