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Kansas And Missouri Senators Say Stimulus Will 'Speed Relief' From Economic Shock Of Coronavirus

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File photo by Manuel Balce Ceneta
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Associated Press
U.S. Senator Pat Roberts (R-Kansas) said the $2 trillian coronavirus relief package passed by the Senate 'represents ideas from both sides of the political aisle.'

A massive federal coronavirus stimulus package, on the verge of final passage, should bring some welcome relief from the pandemic to the Kansas City metro area, members of the Kansas and Missouri Congressional delegations said Thursday.

The U.S. Senate unanimously passed the so-called CARES Act on Wednesday night, and the U.S. House is expected to do so quickly on Friday. It then goes to President Trump.

“The CARES Act provides one of the most powerful and timely economic relief packages in our nation’s history,” Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas said in a statement. Roberts said the plan “represents ideas from both sides of the political aisle but with a shared purpose: to deliver a necessary financial bridge to American households, workers and businesses through the economic shock from COVID-19.”

The $2 trillion package includes direct relief to individuals and families, cash flow assistance to protect workers and small businesses, expanded unemployment benefits, financial assistance to distressed industries such as the airlines, and increased funding for hospitals and health care providers.

The most tangible impact for Kansas City metro residents, said Roberts' spokeswoman Stacey Daniels, will be stimulus checks of $1,200 for individuals and $2,400 for couples, phased out for higher income individuals; extended unemployment insurance for four months instead of three and an additional $600 per week; and small business loans.

Some say the money could be distributed in April, but others said it would likely not arrive until May.

“We’re still in the middle of a raging storm, but our hope is that this stimulus will provide some shelter until skies begin to clear,” U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver of Kansas City said in a statement. “Should more stimulus be needed, which I believe is likely, Congress will be ready to step in.”

Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri said the pandemic is the greatest threat America has seen in decades.

“We have to speed relief to everyone who needs it and the CARES Act the Senate just passed does that,” he said.

The CARES Act contains many provisions he would not support in ordinary circumstances, said Sen. Jerry Moran of Kansas, “but hospitals need supplies, small businesses need loans, farmers and ranchers need certainty and folks who are out of work, through no fault of their own, need relief.”

In addition to providing direct assistance to individuals, the Act has emergency funds for food and nutrition programs and schools. It also provides cash-flow assistance to small business through federally guaranteed loans, and ensures virus testing will be covered by private insurance. Among other provisions, it includes $100 billion for hospitals and health care providers and $16 billion for personal protective equipment and other medical supplies.

According to the Tax Foundation, $150 billion is slated to go to states, based on population. Local governments of jurisdictions with more than 500,000 people are also eligible for aid, with that amount subtracted from the amount otherwise available to their state government.

Based on the Tax Foundation's calcuations, Kansas is slated to receive $1.25 billion and Missouri $2.38 billion. An additional $274 billion goes to state and local governments for specific purposes.

Lynn Horsley is a freelance journalist. Follow her on Twitter @LynnHorsley.