Saturday, 06 June, 2020

Coronavirus: US$2 trillion rescue package passes US Senate, heads to House

Senate Majority leader Mitch Mc Connell called the package a'wartime level of investment Senate Majority leader Mitch Mc Connell called the package a'wartime level of investment
Gustavo Carr | 26 March, 2020, 08:42

Senate leaders and the White House reached an agreement early Wednesday on a massive $2 trillion stimulus package aimed at spurring the economy and helping businesses and workers badly affected by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Senators were negotiating the final sticking points in the stimulus bill to help the US economy get through the coronavirus pandemic.

Still, Pelosi said the need for more money for NY is "no reason to stop the step we are taking". He said the House of Representatives will consider the bill on Friday.

"This is an unprecedented amount of money", said Portman, noting that Congress previously passed two coronavirus relief packages that cost $200 billion and $8.3 billion. It also has more than $350 billion to aid small businesses.

The bill also calls for the government sending $1,200 checks to individuals who make less than $75,000 and $2,400 for couples making less than $150,000. This was a key Democratic initiative, which Schumer dubbed "unemployment insurance on steroids". There also is money for hospitals, some of which are on the verge of being overwhelmed.

The size of the stimulus package has grown over the past week, from the $850 billion that the Trump administration reportedly first asked for, to the current $2 trillion.

The bill's passage came as Trump grew impatient with his administration's decision to impose strict restrictions on all aspects of American public life as a way to stop the spread of the virus, a move recommended by U.S. health officials that has brought the economy grinding close to a halt.

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Yet it may not be enough to prevent a big short-term hit to the economy and a dramatic rise in unemployment.

"To all Americans, I say, help is on the way, big help and quick help", Schumer added in a speech on the Senate floor.

"It's been a long hard road with a remarkable number of twists and turns, but for the sake of millions of Americans, it will be worth it", said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), who negotiated past midnight for days with a White House team.

However, any House member could demand a recorded, roll-call vote, which has potential to drag out the process. Four lawmakers were absent from the vote, as Republican Senators Rand Paul (Kentucky), John Thune (South Dakota), Mitt Romney (Utah) and Mike Lee (Utah) are each either ill with Covid-19, or in self-isolation. Democrats pushed for part-time, self-employed, and "gig economy" workers - who are traditionally excluded from collecting unemployment insurance - to access the expanded benefits, which would include an extra $600 per week for every worker for an additional 13 weeks.

Details of the bill are still being worked out before being voted on in the Senate. But stocks receded from the day's highs late in the afternoon as the Republican senators raised their objections and independent Senator Bernie Sanders countered with a threat to hold up the legislation. Some $240 billion is set aside for additional emergency appropriations and safety net programs: food stamp benefits, child nutrition, the Centres for Disease Control, and public health and transportation agencies.

Another delay was happening behind the scenes.