Congress and White House Agree to $2 Trillion Coronavirus Stimulus Package

Henrietta Brewer
March 26, 2020

Senate leaders and the Trump administration reached a deal in the early hours of Wednesday morning on a $2 trillion emergency stimulus package to blunt the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic, which continues to spread across the country and has tipped the economy towards recession.

The 883-page measure is the largest economic relief bill in US history, and both parties' leaders were desperate for quick passage as the virus took lives and jobs by the hour.

Details of the bill are still being worked out before being voted on in the Senate.

"A massive drafting error in the current version of the coronavirus relief legislation could have devastating outcome: Unless the bill if fixed, there is a strong incentive for employees to be laid off instead of going to work", they said in a statement. "Hopefully, we won't need this for three months". Chuck Schumer, Democrat of NY, said in a press release.

Schumer said the plan offers "billions more" for critical investments into personal and protective equipment for health care workers, testing supplies, increased workforce and training, among other things.

The bill is the third congressional effort to aid America in the grip of the outbreak and is the largest effort taken thus far. "It does it for as long as it needs to". House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer announced Wednesday evening ahead of Senate passage that the House will convene at 9 a.m. on Friday to consider the relief package. If a single member comes to the House floor and objects, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) may have to recall House members to Washington for a vote that would draw out the process.

Pelosi had suggested on Tuesday that she was hoping to avoid bringing the full House back to Washington to vote on the package, seeking to pass it through unanimous consent instead.

$350 billion will be made available as loans to small businesses. Hospitals would get significant help as well.

Rep. Justin Amash of MI, an independent who left the Republican Party past year, called the package a "raw deal for the people" in a tweet shortly after it was announced, but clarified later in the day that he will not delay the bill by objecting to unanimous consent. But failure is not an option, nor is starting over, which permitted both sides to include their priorities. Married couples making $150,000 per year or less are set to receive $2,400, with an additional $500 added per child.

Hospitals are expected to receive at least $100 billion to deal with the incoming flood of COVID-19 patients. Other provisions in the bill include $45 billion for FEMA's disaster relief fund, a six-month suspension of federal student loans and protections against evictions and foreclosures are also included. "Graham and the others, they voted for a trillion dollars in tax breaks for the 1% and large corporations and now they're really anxious that a low-income worker might receive extended unemployment plus $600 a week", Sanders said. Businesses owned by members of Congress, heads of executive departments and Vice President Mike Pence also would be blocked. It also will send tens of billions in fresh aid to states. About half are in NY state. More than 68,000 people in the USA have been infected with the deadly respiratory disease and some economists warn that unemployment could hit 30 per cent. The package also contains $15.5 billion more for a surge in demand for food stamps.

The White House has indicated that Americans could be seeing direct payments as soon as April 6.

The rescue package is larger than the 2008 bank bailout and 2009 recovery act.

Germany, Europe's biggest economy, has agreed to commit over 1 trillion euros ($1.1 trillion) in fiscal stimulus and support - roughly 30% of that nation's entire annual output. France, Spain and Italy have launched similar programs.

Get all the latest news on coronavirus and more delivered daily to your inbox. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, or death.

In the United States, more than 55,000 people have been sickened and more than 900 have died.

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