While Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell held show-votes on his partisan Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) economic stimulus bill, Senator Michael Bennet and his Democratic colleagues worked with the White House in a bipartisan way to secure dramatically more support for American workers, families, hospitals, and state and local governments in the final agreement.
Below is a summary of the provisions Senate Democrats successfully secured in the bipartisan agreement the Senate intends to vote on today.
A ‘Marshall Plan’ for America’s Hospitals on the Front Lines of the Pandemic:
The partisan McConnell bill dramatically underfunded the fight against COVID-19 with too little support for our frontline health care workers, hospitals, and the supplies and equipment needed to combat the outbreak.
Working with the administration, Senate Democrats fought to secure $150 billion for our health care system – $55 billion more than McConnell’s earlier plan. Democrats also secured a potential 6-month advance on reimbursement payments, so hospitals can stay open and serve their communities. This plan also includes over $16 billion for critical medical supplies like personal protective equipment (PPE) and ventilators, and $3.5 billion for the purchase of vaccines and therapeutics.
Expanded Unemployment Assistance:
McConnell's original plan did nothing to help those facing unemployment due to the pandemic. With unemployment surging at rates unprecedented in our nation’s history, Democrats fought for a historic expansion of unemployment benefits that will substantially increase weekly benefits, provide an additional 13 weeks of benefits, and expand benefits to cover gig workers, contract workers, and the self-employed.
Stronger Direct Cash Payments to Americans:
The initial McConnell bill included direct cash payments that helped higher-income Americans more than lower-income Americans, and it completely denied payments to tens of millions of vulnerable Americans.
Senate Democrats negotiated significant changes with the administration to ensure that middle- and low-income Americans will receive the full $1,200 per adult and $500 per child, providing the typical family of four with $3,400.
Although Bennet led the charge for much larger direct cash payments that would continue until the public health crisis ends and the economy heals, he believes this agreement represents real progress.
Immediate Relief for Small Businesses:
The initial McConnell bill included good, bipartisan work to help small businesses, but it lacked immediate relief for businesses that are already suffering from the outbreak. Democrats secured an additional $27 billion of immediate, direct cash assistance on top of the $350 billion previously negotiated to support small business lending and loan forgiveness.
Assistance for State, Local, and Tribal Governments:
State and local governments not only have to fight this health crisis, they also have to pay existing obligations even as their tax revenues collapse. The initial McConnell bill failed to include any assistance for states and localities to help them confront these challenges.
Understanding that state and local governments are facing potential budget gaps that could rise well into the hundreds of billions of dollars, Democrats worked to include $150 billion as a down payment toward bringing some relief to Colorado and states across the country.
Help for Nonprofits:
McConnell’s partisan bill did too little for nonprofits that are playing critical roles in hard-hit communities, including by delivering food assistance and helping people struggling with evictions and homelessness.
Democrats fought hard to make sure nonprofits of all sizes receive support from financing and tax credits available to businesses while also funding vital frontline social services providers as they work tirelessly to support our communities during this national crisis.
Increased Transparency and Accountability for Business Programs:
The initial McConnell plan included what was essentially a $500 billion slush fund for corporations without any oversight or transparency of taxpayer money.
Democrats fought to secure greater transparency, accountability, and oversight measures to ensure taxpayer money won't be used for executive bonuses or stock buybacks and that all businesses are treated fairly.