US Senate passes historic $2 trillion bill to stimulate US economy

Marco Green
March 26, 2020

After several days of tug-of-war, Republican and Democratic senators were able to agree on a $2 trillion economic stimulus package - the largest in modern USA history.

The state has around 30,000 confirmed cases, he added, with 285 deaths.

The urgently needed bipartisan legislation is the largest economic rescue measure in the country's history. The legislation covers an array of programs, including direct payments to Americans, an aggressive expansion of unemployment insurance, billions of dollars in aid to large and small businesses and a new wave of significant funding for the health care industry. In Asia markets, US futures pared early losses after news of the deal. The direct payments to Americans remain one of the centerpieces of the proposal. These payments will go to people who have been laid off or furloughed, and to out-of-work members of the gig economy.

It also includes a $340 billion supplemental package to combat the outbreak itself, including $117 billion for hospitals, $45 billion for FEMA's disaster relief fund and $11 billion for vaccines, therapeutics and other medical needs.

In addition, $500 billion will go into a corporate rescue fund.

The plan includes about $500 billion that can be used to back loans and assistance to companies, including $50 billion for loans to USA airlines, as well as state and local governments.

The Senate cleared these measures by an overwhelming majority.

It wasn't easy, and it took a little longer than many would've liked, but around 2 a.m. (E.T.) this morning, Senate leaders and the White House reached an agreement on a $2 trillion economic rescue bill, meant to help mitigate the effects of the coronavirus crisis.

The Senate is expected to vote on March 25 and President Trump will sign the bill shortly after.

Senate leaders noted the historic nature of the challenge posed by the coronavirus, which the Democratic Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called "a odd and evil disease".

A group of Senate Republicans - Lindsey Graham, Tim Scott, Ben Sasse and Rick Scott - had voiced last-minute concerns, saying the bill's unemployment assistance provision allows jobless Americans to make more money under unemployment than if they were working normally.

"Let us tell them tonight that help is on the way, that they are not truly alone, that this country, that this Senate, that this government is here for them in a time of dire need", top Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer said moments before the vote.

"We can not let the cure be worse than the problem itself". And no economic policy can fully end the hardship so long as the public health requires that we put so much of our commerce on ice. This isn't even a stimulus package. "That's what this is". On the other side of Capitol Hill, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has already endorsed the broad contours of the Senate compromise, but many House members are unavailable, especially after their recent interactions with two lawmakers who've since tested positive for COVID-19.

"I salute the strong leadership of Chuck Schumer and Senate Democrats". Pennsylvania Senator Pat Toomey said businesses of up to 500 employees are eligible for this assistance.

A vote had not been scheduled in the Senate by Wednesday evening.

At a White House press briefing Wednesday afternoon, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said he anticipates the stimulus package will keep the USA economy afloat for about three months.

Europe is enacting its own economic recovery packages, with huge amounts of credit guarantees, government spending and other support.

Democrats demanded and won a series of restraints on corporations that would benefit from loans or investments from the Treasury Department, as well as an oversight mechanism for who gets money. Democrats secured concessions on all three in the final deal. Their children, spouses and in-laws also could not benefit. The package also contains $15.5 billion more for a surge in demand for food stamps as part of a massive $330 billion title for agency operations. They also would have to limit executive bonuses and take steps to protect workers.

Calling it an "emergency relief", Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, said at the Senate floor earlier in the day that the package will "help the people of this country weather this storm". That package, estimated to cost more than $100 billion, provided for new paid sick leave benefits and funds to expedite access to coronavirus testing. Republicans were tepid about the package, but Trump endorsed it and it ultimately passed Congress with the support of 90% of lawmakers in both chambers.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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