Democratic and Republican lawmakers early Wednesday morning in the middle of the night appeared to have reached a bipartisan agreement on a $2 trillion economic stimulus package. Details of the package are still under wraps, but it appears that real estate agents — most of whom are independent contractors — are set to be eligible for unemployment benefits.
Both Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer confirmed the deal at around 2 a.m.
“At last, we have a deal,” McConnell posted on Twitter. “After days of intense discussions, the Senate has reached a bipartisan agreement on a historic relief package for this pandemic. We’re going to pass this legislation later today.”
Citing aides close to the discussion, the Wall Street Journal reported that lawmakers had discussed sending one-time checks worth $1,200 to Americans — and an additional $500 per child — with the assistance phasing out for individuals making more than $75,000 and married couples making more than $150,000. Exact details are not available.
For real estate agents, most of whom are independent contractors, it appears the stimulus package would extend unemployment benefits to gig workers and freelancers while increasing unemployment assistance to $600 per week for four months.
Compass’ Robert Reffkin wrote a letter this week calling on Congress to include real estate agents and not just W2 employees in any aid package.
The bill is also expected to include roughly $350 billion in loans to small businesses, so companies can continue to pay their employees. Those loans could be crucial for smaller real estate brokerages operating in markets like New York State, where real estate activity has been essentially halted by executive order.
“We have a bipartisan agreement to address this public health and economic crisis,” Schumer posted on Twitter. “It is not a moment of celebration but one of necessity. We fought to send much-needed resources to fight coronavirus and to put people and workers first. The agreement now reflects those priorities.”
A spokesperson for the National Association of Realtors, which has prepared a guide for Realtors to access during the crisis, told Inman the association has been working with lawmakers on the bill.
“NAR’s federal advocacy team has worked closely with policy makers in Washington to ensure the concerns of Realtors and their clients are addressed in any federal response to COVID-19,” the spokesperson said. “We’ve focused specifically on advocating for self-employed and small business relief in these emergency response packages and will continue to do so as more proposals are considered.”