The U.S. Senate has passed a $2.2 trillion economic relief package to ease huge economic challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic. The measure now moves to the House.
“You add all this up, we’re talking about a substantial amount of relief,” Sen. Ben Cardin, a Maryland Democrat, told reporters Thursday in a conference call. “It’s hard to underscore the impact this is going to have on Maryland.”
The bill establishes a $150 billion fund for state, territorial, tribal and local governments. For Maryland, that means “flexible dollars to the state and local governments to respond to all the different demands,” Maryland Democratic Sen. Chris Van Hollen said. Maryland’s share is estimated at $2.3 billion, the senators said. The state’s largest local governments — those with at least 500,000 residents — would be permitted “to apply directly to the Department of Treasury and outline why they need these funds and how they will be used,” Van Hollen said. Those governments are Baltimore City and Baltimore County, as well as the counties of Anne Arundel, Montgomery and Prince George’s. Each is expected to receive in the range of $100 million to $150 million, according to the senators. Smaller local governments would receive their funding from the state’s allocation.
The bill includes $25 billion for public transit systems, which have seen drastically reduced ridership. Maryland’s share is about $645 million for systems such as those in Baltimore City and the Washington region, according to Van Hollen.
The legislation includes $377 billion for small businesses. The aid was pushed by Cardin for businesses in Maryland and around the country. Maryland’s small businesses employ more than a million people, according to federal estimates. The amount each receives would depend on their need and how many apply. “The unprecedented public health measures cities and states have taken to slow the spread of the COVID-19, while necessary to protect public health, are having a tremendous impact on small businesses in every community in America,” said Cardin, the top-ranking Democrat on the Senate Small Business Committee.
Health care providers would get $100 million. While it’s not clear how much would go to providers in the state, “Maryland hospitals will certainly benefit from that,” Van Hollen said.
The stimulus package includes “rebate” checks for individuals and couples. The payments would amount to $1,200 for people with adjusted gross incomes (in their tax returns) of as much as $75,000. Couples making up to $150,000 would receive $2,400. Additionally, taxpayers are eligible for a $500 credit per child. The payment amounts are smaller for people at higher incomes and there’s a cutoff point for people with the biggest incomes. People receiving Social Security, Social Security Disability Insurance or Railroad Retirement benefits, would not need to have filed returns to receive the rebate.