Sen. John Kennedy explains distribution of federal funds to La. for COVID-19 relief

Senator John Kennedy | Source: KNOE

WASHINGTON, D.C. (WAFB) - Congress is closing in on a vote to deliver direct payments to boost your bottom line, rescue small businesses and help overwhelmed hospitals.

The $2 trillion deal is one of the largest in the nation’s history.

“We have cut a lot of red tape, and we want to get this money out the door,” Sen. John Kennedy said.

After reaching a deal early Wednesday morning in the Senate, the House now has to sign off on the bill which includes direct payments of $1,200 for each taxpayer who makes less than $75,000 a year plus $500 for each child in the home. If passed, Wednesday or Thursday night, Kennedy says the money could hit folks’ accounts as early as next week.

“That money’s going to be administered by the IRS. They’re going to direct deposit that money into peoples’ bank account,” Kennedy said.

For those who are out of work, the proposal also greatly expands unemployment benefits. The senator estimates folks in Louisiana who are now laid off would get close to $800 a week.

“Theoretically you could receive a check for $600 plus the amount that the state would normally put in which I understand is about $200 to $250,” Kennedy said.

Lawmakers are still working out the fine print of those unemployment benefits, including how long the increased payments would continue, but the speed of the payments will vary, depending on how efficient the unemployment process is in each state. Help is also on the way for small businesses.

Kennedy says they will be able to apply for SBA loans but any of the money used to pay employees will not have to be paid back.

“If you use the money to pay employees, that is a grant,” said Kennedy. “Everything else is a loan but you don’t have to start paying it back I think for at least a year.”

State governments will see the largest chunk of the money. Each state will receive a minimum of $1.25 billion-plus up to an extra $150 billion based on population.

“The money will go to the governor and it can only defray expenses related to the coronavirus,” Kennedy said.

Kennedy says they have been working around the clock and across the aisle to make good on a promise he believes will help those who need it.

“Will it be enough, we don’t know yet,” Kennedy said. “We’re going to try it but I think it’s going to help immensely.”

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