Coronavirus and Meetings
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UPDATED March 27, 2020, 4:45 p.m. EDT
President Trump signed a $2 trillion stimulus package Friday afternoon. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act is the largest emergency aid package in U.S. history, according to The New York Times. The CARES Act was approved by the Senate Wednesday night and passed by the House of Representatives this afternoon.
Lawmakers hope the bill will help stabilize the U.S. economy and provide much-needed relief for struggling businesses and unemployed Americans who have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. It will offer direct payments to individuals. Under the bill, single Americans making up to $75,000 would receive checks of $1,200 each, while couples with combined earnings of $150,000 or less would receive $2,400. The payment amounts will decrease for those making more than $75,000. Americans with an income above $99,000 will not qualify for any payments.
The bill also includes expanded unemployment coverage, including an additional $600 per week for four months. This aid will be particularly helpful to the travel industry, which is expected to see as many as 5.9 million layoffs by the end of April.
In addition, the CARES Act will provide $367 billion in loans for small businesses and $500 billion in loans for larger companies affected by the virus. This will include $32 billion for the airline industry, with $25 billion allocated for passenger airlines, $4 billion for cargo carriers and $3 billion for aviation contractors.
U.S. Travel Association president and CEO Roger Dow urged the aid be distributed as quickly as possible. He also cautioned that more will likely be needed to protect the travel industry and the millions of workers it employs across the country.
"The Phase 3 relief package passed by Congress this week is a great first step in this process, and comes at a time when the American travel industry is facing catastrophic economic disaster, with almost six million travel-supported jobs expected to be lost in the next five weeks," said Dow in a statement. "We call upon the Department of the Treasury and the Small Business Administration to expedite the rule-making process -- within 10 days -- to get this money out the door into the hands of those who so desperately need it. Businesses across America are being forced to shut their doors to customers and employees alike, and there is no time to wait."
Last week, Dow and other top travel and hospitality industry executives met with President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence to plead their case for federal aid.
"While the CARES Act represents tremendous progress toward keeping our economy functioning at this challenging and unprecedented moment, it is clear that more will need to be done to protect the livelihoods of American workers," said Dow. "This relief package will help create a bridge for some time, but there are some that this won't help -- and the longer it takes to implement, the more jobs will be lost. We stand ready to work with Congress and the administration to ensure that the economy recovers as quickly as possible once the worst of the health crisis is finally past."