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Manchin, Capito praise deal reached for CARES COVID-19 relief bill

MORGANTOWN — Sens. Shelley Moore Capito and Joe Manchin spoke separately with the press Wednesday about the deal reached on the $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus package, called the CARES Act.

Both talked in the hours between the deal being reached and their return to the Senate floor for the expected vote on the bill.

“It’s been a very action-packed last few hours here,” said Capito, R-W.Va. “There are a lot of good bipartisan ideas in here that have been worked on for a long time.”

She regretted the partisan bickering over certain provisions that led to several days’ delay on the agreement. “We should have done this four days ago. Regretfully we didn’t.”

Manchin, D-W.Va., said, “Thank goodness we’ve got a bill and we’ve got a good piece of legislation.”

The early version, in his view, didn’t contain enough money for healthcare or unemployment.

“We’re going to help everybody that has lost their job, lost their revenue, through no fault of their own,” he said.

The bill focuses, he said, on small business, workers and healthcare. There were fears that elements of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s 1,432-page package, which contains numerous Green New Deal and inclusivity provisions unrelated to coronavirus relief might get stuffed in. But Manchin said he didn’t support “all this kind of crazy stuff” and it never would pass the Senate.

Here are the broad aspects of the bill, combined from discussions by both:

$350 billion for small-business relief to keep employees and employers connected and keep the businesses open. It includes emergency grants and forgivable loans.

For businesses with more than 500 employees, a $500 billion loan program with accountability measures. It includes $25 billion for passenger airlines seeing sharp reductions in passengers. No bonuses or stock buybacks for executives are permitted.

Individual relief of $1,200 per person or $2,400 per couple, pus $500 per child. Citizens who e-file their federal taxes would see the money come as a refund. Seniors on Social Security would see a direct deposit. Those who don’t file or pay taxes will have to file with the IRS to be included.

Enhanced unemployment benefits. The average benefit in West Virginia is $424 per week and the bill adds $600 per week to that, so a West Virginian getting that amount would see $1,024 per week for up to four months of extension of their unemployment.

The idea is to get this benefit as close to full pay as possible, but news reports indicate some GOP senators are balking, saying the benefit in the bill could allow some to make more unemployed than they do at work; this appeared to be leading to a delay in the vote, which hadn’t occurred at deadline.

$100 billion for healthcare.

A stabilization fund for states, counties and cities. No state would get less than $1.2 billion via a block grant. There would be additional money for counties and cities and for states to conduct vote-by-mail elections

Various other items, including airport improvement program funds, money to develop vaccines and therapeutics, $16 billion to replenish the national stockpile of emergency supplies and $31 billion for grants to school systems and higher education.

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