Senate to Introduce Second Coronavirus Stimulus Package

The Senate Republican leadership will announce today, Monday, its proposal for a new $1 trillion coronavirus economic stimulus package, which would include a new round of $1,200 stimulus checks, a reduction in unemployment insurance payments, and more aid to businesses. Meanwhile, the National Grocers Association sent a letter to congressional leaders outlining the top priorities for independent supermarkets in the upcoming economic stimulus package.

The stimulus package bill will be presented today by the Republican leadership of the Senate and, according to CNBC, will have the following provisions:

The bill would authorize what Republicans have called a targeted second round of Paycheck Protection Program loans for small businesses hit particularly hard by the pandemic.

It would include $16 billion in new funds for coronavirus testing and tax incentives to encourage companies to rehire workers and adopt safety measures.

It would extend the improved federal unemployment insurance, but “based on approximately a 70% salary replacement,” according to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, substantially reducing the $600 supplemental aid that will end in late July.

The plan would send another round of direct payments to Americans. It is still unclear whether the bill would maintain the same eligibility terms as the stimulus checks approved in March ($1,200 to individuals and $2,400 to couples).

On Friday, Senator Mitch McConnell said “we anticipate another round of direct cash payments, particularly those earning $40,000 a year and less in the hospitality industry.

The new stimulus package would protect businesses, doctors, and universities from coronavirus-related lawsuits, except in cases of gross negligence and willful misconduct.

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The legislation would include $105 billion to help schools resume classes, with at least some of the funding conditioned on their opening in the fall.

The Senate Republican bill will have to enter into negotiations with the $3 billion bill introduced by House Democrats to find a consensus that would allow them to send President Donald Trump a second stimulus package and have him sign it into law.

The National Grocers Association, which represents the independent grocery industry, submitted a letter to congressional leaders, outlining the top priorities of independent grocers regarding the new coronavirus economic stimulus package.

“The independent supermarket industry continues to experience ongoing and unexpected challenges as it works tirelessly to feed the American public,” wrote NGA President and CEO Greg Ferrara in the letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.

According to the NGA, independent supermarkets expect the new stimulus package to include the following:

The exclusion of gross income taxes and temporary payroll tax relief for essential workers in supermarkets and agriculture.

Limit the liability of essential companies for coronavirus claims if they make their best efforts to comply with federal, state and local guidelines.

Expand access to the online SNAP supplemental nutrition program by providing grocers with technical assistance to help implement an online program and deferring costly start-up expenses for retailers who do not have the capacity and resources to enter the program online.

The Senate’s proposal is consistent with the NGA’s suggestion on changing unemployment insurance payments.

The trade association said a cap on total unemployment benefits at a certain percentage of the applicant’s previous compensation level should be considered as an alternative to the current policy of providing additional benefits that have proven to be a disincentive to continue or return to work.