Trump signs

President Trump signed a $2.2 trillion COVID-19 relief act Friday afternoon. (File photo)

WASHINGTON -- President Trump on Friday afternoon signed a $2.2 trillion COVID-19 relief package approved by the U.S. House just hours earlier.

The bill, approved 96-0 by the U.S. Senate on Wednesday, was approved via voice vote in the House.

During remarks in the Oval Office, Trump said it was twice as big as any financial bailout package ever approved in the nation's history. The president thanked "Democrats and Republicans for coming together and setting aside their differences" to pass the bill.

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In a tweet, Trump called it “the single biggest economic relief package in American History.” 

"I never signed anything with a 'T' in it," Trump said before he signed. "I don't know if I can handle it."

The U.S. now has more than 92,000 coronavirus cases, the most in the world, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. At least 1,380 deaths in the U.S. have been linked to COVID-19.

“At $2.2 trillion dollars, this bill will deliver urgently-needed relief for our nation’s families, workers, and businesses,” Trump wrote.

 Trump was joined at the signing ceremony by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.). Neither House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) nor Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) were present.

Leaders from both parties indicated it would not be the final relief package.

“What the Congress cannot do is implement these well-constructed programs, so now it’s up to President Trump to execute them quickly, effectively, and in the manner in which they were drafted—to help the American people,”  Schumer said in a statement. “We ensured that the federal government has the resources and tools they need to make it happen, and we will be watching President Trump minute by minute to make sure he and his administration do it right.”

The deal includes direct cash payments of $1,200 each for most adults, though it's not clear how long it will take the government to process the payments. White House and congressional leaders have said some individuals will receive direct payments within three weeks.

The Internal Revenue Service will distribute the funds, using 2019 taxpayer forms to determine how much a person's check should be and where it should be sent. If 2019 taxes haven't been filed, the IRS will use information from taxpayers' 2018 forms.

Low-income Americans who don't typically file taxes would still need to file a form. People receiving nontaxable income would still get checks. People receiving Social Security benefits will also get the payment.

It's not necessary to download special software or use a tax preparer. The IRS has two paths for free filing options, one for those making under $69,000 and another for those making above $69,000. Both can be found on IRS.gov.

U.S. Rep. Troy Balderson, whose 12th District includes a segment of Richland County, issued an e-mail saying he voted in favor of the legislation, which is third bill approved by Congress in three weeks since the pandemic reached the United States from its origin in China.

“This is a pivotal moment for our country, full of uncertainty and fear for the future. Ohioans are worried about their jobs, families, neighbors, and businesses. Their needs are my top priority,” Balderson said.

“This package delivers necessary reassurance and relief and protects our country’s people through this public health and economic emergency. It’s a fitting symbol that we will make it through this crisis together," the Republican from Zanesville said.

Highlight provisions from the package include:

-- Financial relief to American families through a one-time tax rebate of $1,200 per person, with an extra $500 per child. That amount begins to decrease for individuals with annual incomes of more than $75,000.

-- $500 billion in loans and loan guarantees for airlines and other distressed sectors and $350 billion ins loans to small businesses to help them stay afloat and keep employees on payroll through a paycheck protection program. It also funds Small Business Administration (SBA) emergency grants and coverage of up to 6 months of loan payments.

-- Full mobilization of America’s health care sector, including $100 billion in direct funding to hospitals, special attention to rural health through significant telehealth expansion, and $16 billion for medical supplies and protective gear.

-- Immediate dispatch of federal resources to state and local governments, totaling $340 billion, to protect the health and well-being of Americans.

-- Stabilization of the American economy through $454 billion for loans, loan guarantees, and investments in support of the Federal Reserve’s lending facilities to eligible businesses, states, and municipalities.

-- Suspension of payments on federal student loans through Sept. 30.

-- Expansion of unemployment insurance. It provides an additional $600 per week payment to each recipient of unemployment insurance until July 31. It provides payment to those not traditionally eligible for unemployment (self-employed, independent contractors, those with limited work history and others) who are unable to work as a direct result of the coronavirus until Dec. 31. It also extends unemployment payments to 39 weeks (most states provide 26 weeks).

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