President Trump has officially signed the much-anticipated $2.2 trillion aid package (the CARES Act) into law. The stimulus, which is the largest in American history, provides support to medical facilities, businesses, and individuals who are struggling because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) reached a compromise on the stimulus bill earlier this week. Yesterday, the Senate voted unanimously (96-0, with the missing four senators in self-quarantine because of COVID-19) to pass the measure, thereby sending it to the House of Representatives.
House members were expected to vote on the far-reaching financial-support plan early this morning, but the process was delayed by Kentucky Representative Thomas Massie, who protested the bill’s cost and perceived lack of benefits for individuals. Many lawmakers had to double back to the Capitol, and Representative Massie’s request for a roll call vote (one wherein each member’s response is recorded) was overruled in favor of a simple voice vote.
After these last-minute dramatics, President Trump promptly signed the legislation into law. As previously reported, the $2.2 trillion stimulus includes extended unemployment benefits for freelancers and salaried workers, small-business loans, bailout funds for distressed companies, approximately $100 billion for hospitals, $1,200 payments for the majority of American adults, and other recovery-minded elements.
Prominent music industry figures appear to be satisfied with the stimulus’s assistance for artists.
Speaking of the CARES Act, BMI President and CEO Mike O’Neill said: “We are extremely pleased that the federal stimulus package will offer relief to America’s songwriters and composers, who are, in many cases, our nation’s ultimate small businesses.”
Recording Academy interim CEO Harvey Mason Jr., for his part, said, “The Recording Academy thanks the Congressional leaders who worked with the music community to craft a bill that allows the music to play on.”
The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic continues to prevent many Americans, and particularly musicians and others who work with crowds, from earning a living.
The United States has reported the most COVID-19 cases of any country in the world, chiefly because a substantial number of tests have been administered. To be sure, a recent study conducted by Icelandic doctors found that more than half of COVID-19 carriers will exhibit no symptoms whatsoever.
These individuals are still capable of transferring the virus, however, and a large segment of the U.S. population—and the world—remains in self-isolation and lockdown as a result. President Trump hopes to “open the country up” by Easter, potentially by further upping testing and curtailing COVID-19 restrictions in areas that have experienced relatively few cases.