The White House is asking Congress to allocate $500 billion for two separate waves of direct payments to American taxpayers in the coming weeks and another $300 billion to help small businesses continue to meet payroll, according to a Treasury Department proposal circulating on Capitol Hill and among lobbyists.
The outline, a copy of which was obtained by The New York Times, calls for a total of $1 trillion in spending for those programs, which would also include $50 billion for secured loans for the airline industry, and another $150 billion for secured loans or loan guarantees for other parts of the economy hard hit by the unfolding financial crisis.
It would allow for the use of the Exchange Stabilization Fund, an emergency reserve account that is usually used for intervening in currency markets, to cover those costs, and also temporarily allow it to guarantee money market mutual funds. Lawmakers were moving swiftly on Wednesday to try to incorporate the proposal and others from senators into legislation that could be put up for a vote in the coming days. But the details remained far from complete.
The Treasury Department proposal calls for the authority to send two $250 billion rounds of checks directly to American taxpayers, the first on April 6 and the second May 18. Payments would be fixed, and their size dependent on income and family size, the summary said.
The proposed program to increase loans to small businesses would allow any employer with 500 employees or fewer to receive loans equaling six weeks of their payroll up to $1,540 per employee under the condition that companies must keep paying their employees for eight weeks after receiving the loan.
Mr. Mnuchin broadly outlined the White House’s proposal to Republican senators on Wednesday, but the document shared with congressional offices and others added significant new detail, some of which is likely to be revised by Republican and Democratic lawmakers.
The Senate on Wednesday also plans to take up the coronavirus relief package approved by the House last week, which would provide paid leave, enhanced unemployment benefits, free coronavirus testing and food and health care aid.
While some conservatives said they were unhappy with the bill, Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, counseled his members on Tuesday to “gag and vote for it anyway.”
“This is a time for urgent bipartisan action, and in this case, I do not believe we should let perfection be the enemy of something that will help even a subset of workers,” Mr. McConnell said on the Senate floor Wednesday morning, adding that he would vote for the legislation.