• The $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief legislation Congress passed at the end of March, which provided money for direct stimulus payments to most Americans, was the biggest emergency relief measure passed in US history.
  • On Tuesday, the Democrats in the House proposed an even bigger one, this time adding money for an additional round of coronavirus stimulus payments — up to $6,000 for households.
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Millions of Americans are still waiting to receive their first coronavirus stimulus payment, supported by funding from a $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief bill Congress passed at the end of March, but Congress is already moving on and prepping another massive stimulus package. Chockablock full of aid like almost $1 trillion for state and local governments, the highlight of this new bill — proposed by House Democrats Tuesday ahead of a planned vote on Friday — will be a new round of direct cash payments to Americans, including $1,200 to individuals and as much as $6,000 for households.

Other major components of this new emergency relief include $175 billion that would help Americans with rent, mortgage, and utility payments; $75 billion to support coronavirus testing and contract-tracing, to help put the economy on more solid footing as more states “reopen”; and around $200 billion designated as “hazard pay” for essential workers during the coronavirus pandemic.

The coronavirus pandemic has worsened considerably since late March, when Congress passed that previous $2.2 trillion bill that easily earned the distinction of being the biggest emergency spending legislation in the country’s history. This new bill, however, will top that one, carrying a price tag of more than $3 trillion.

It comes as most of the country will be reopened to at least some degree by the end of this week, mostly thanks to states gradually starting to loosen restrictions because they feel like it’s risking economic catastrophe to keep the closures going any longer. However, the top US infectious disease expert told Senators during a Tuesday hearing that states need to follow federal guidelines that call for a sustained reduction in coronavirus cases before reopening — or risk a different kind of catastrophe.

“My concern that if some areas — cities, states or what have you — jump over those various checkpoints and prematurely open up, without having the capability of being able to respond effectively and efficiently, my concern is we will start to see little spikes that might turn into outbreaks,” Fauci said during his testimony before the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee.

“There is a real risk that you will trigger an outbreak that you may not be able to control, which in fact, paradoxically, will set you back, not only leading to some suffering and death that could be avoided but could even set you back on the road to try to get economic recovery.”

This new proposed stimulus bill is meant to provide something of a cushion, so that state and local governments don’t have to necessarily race to reopen. Its additional benefits include $10 billion in emergency disaster aid as well as an increase in the employee retention tax credit.

Andy is a reporter in Memphis who also contributes to outlets like Fast Company and The Guardian. When he’s not writing about technology, he can be found hunched protectively over his burgeoning collection of vinyl, as well as nursing his Whovianism and bingeing on a variety of TV shows you probably don’t like.