The House of Representatives passed the $2 trillion stimulus package on Friday, even as lawmakers said another rescue package would be needed.
The bill passed on a voice vote. President Donald Trump signed the measure on Friday afternoon in the Oval Office.
Most Americans will receive a one-time payment of $1,200 plus $500 per child. The bill also provides hundreds of billions of dollars in loans and loan guarantees to business, as well as a massive expansion of unemployment insurance. A record-shattering 3.3 million Americans filed for unemployment last week, as non-essential businesses have been forced to shut down across the country to slow the spread of the disease.
Speaking on the House floor, Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that the bill — which is the third passed to address the crisis — will not be the last.
“We know that this cannot be our final bill,” she said. “We must advance a fourth bill to address the continued needs.”
Another bill will likely provide additional funding for hospitals, as well as a long list of other items.
“I think there will be a fourth and a fifth, and probably a sixth and a seventh,” Rep. Adam Schiff told Variety. “There is much work that remains, but we got a very good and important start with this disaster relief bill.”
The Senate approved the bill on a vote of 96-0 on Wednesday night. House members were called back to Washington to vote on Friday morning.
The bill makes special provision for freelancers who have lost work due to the virus. Hollywood’s labor unions have lauded that provision in particular, as production has come to a complete halt over the last two weeks. The bill also adds $600 to every unemployed worker’s check for four months.
SAG-AFTRA President Gabrielle Carteris said the bill contains “real gains for our members who may be suffering, and we are grateful for the added government assistance.”
Thomas Schlamme, the president of the Directors Guild of America, thanked Congress for helping members who “were so hard hit by the coronavirus crisis as film and television production shut down, including aid for those whose future projects were canceled.”
Under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance provision of the bill, unemployment benefits will be extended to those who self-certify that they were “scheduled to commence employment” and now cannot go to work due to the virus.
“Thousands of our members will now qualify for unemployment insurance in cases where they had booked work, but not yet started it,” said Mary McColl, executive director of Actors’ Equity Association, which represents stage actors and stage managers. She added that members now will have “a little more security about being able to pay their rent and feed their families.”
In California, the Employment Development Department has been deluged with more than one million unemployment claims in the last two weeks. The department has had to bring in new staff from elsewhere in state government and call back some retired staffers to help process claims around the clock.
Many theater chains, which have been ordered to shut down in states across the country, are eager to tap the loan guarantees in the bill. The bill provides $500 billion in loans and loan guarantees to large companies, including $25 billion set aside for the airline industry. It also provides $349 billion for small businesses, in the form of loans that can be forgiven if the companies retain their employees.
Motion Picture Association CEO Charles Rivkin said the the bill would provide “critical relief for independent contractors, freelancers, and small businesses who are the backbone of the entertainment industry.”
The bill also provides $100 billion to hospitals, as well as aid to state and local governments. However, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has said the bill provides only a “drop in the bucket” compared to what his state will need. Cuomo said Thursday that he expects the state will lose $10 billion to $15 billion in revenue due to the crisis.