NEW ORLEANS — A $908 billion Coronavirus aid package appears to be gaining support on Capitol Hill.
Senator Bill Cassidy, R-Louisiana, called the bi-partisan proposal a major step forward.
“Both Republicans and Democrats get much of what we want and the common ground that we’ve come to, I think meets the needs of those most effected by the pandemic,” Cassidy said.
Louise Wheeler Francis was a banquet cook at the downtown New Orleans Sheraton Hotel for the past 20 years.
But like so many other workers in the hospitality industry, she lost her job when the pandemic hit this spring.
Francis said any help from Congress would go a long way in helping people like her, now struggling to make ends meet.
“They really need to get on and see that America’s working people are starving,” Francis said. “We need help out here.”
The proposal includes about $300 per week in federal unemployment payments, providing relief just as emergency aid payments are set to expire at year’s end.
It also extends a freeze on evictions for people who cannot pay their rent.
It would provide $160 billion in aid to state and local governments and reauthorize the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) to give a second round of subsidies to businesses struggling through the pandemic.
There would be specific provisions for restaurants and music venues.
Michael Hecht, CEO of the regional economic development organization GNO Inc. said the proposal would help two local job sectors hit hard by the pandemic.
“When you think about getting to the other side, we want to limit the collateral damage to businesses and to workers and this bill with provisions like the PPP and then the enhanced unemployment insurance seems to take care of both,” Hecht said.
Speaking on FOX News Sunday, Cassidy said the bill would not include another round of $1200 stimulus checks for most Americans.
“This is not a stimulus bill, it’s a relief bill,” Cassidy said. “It’s something for the next 3-4 months to help those in greatest need.”
The relief package would be attached to a larger year-end spending bill needed to avert a government shutdown this coming weekend.
President Trump is expected to sign the bill if approved by Congress.