Friday, 05 June, 2020

White House, Congress reach $2 trillion stimulus deal amid coronavirus concerns

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Gustavo Carr | 26 March, 2020, 09:45

The Senate was expected to approve the measure Wednesday evening.

There was some drama on Capitol Hill Wednesday, as a a small group of Republican senators objected last-minute to certain unemployment provisions. But there was wide support from the bill across both parties as well as from Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and President Trump.

Then the stimulus package will be sent to the House where it must pass before it can be signed into law by the president.

The sweeping package will impact a broad swath of American society, with some elements potentially lasting longer than the health crisis.

The bill provides $367 billion for small business loans, $100 billion for hospitals, and $150 billion for state and local governments. It needed 60 votes to pass.

House members are scattered around the country and the timetable for votes in that chamber is unclear. A House vote is unlikely before Thursday or perhaps Friday.

The outbreak has touched directly on Congress, where three lawmakers have reported testing positive for the coronavirus and several others are in self-quarantine.

"There's a lot of good in this bill", Graham said.

Pelosi voiced willingness Wednesday to have a voice vote.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland said the compromise wasn't ideal, but was far better than initial versions of the bill.

Ireland Shuts Down Racing Through At Least April 19
Figures covering the 965 confirmed COVID-19 cases up until midnight on Sunday showed that 36 people had been admitted to the ICU. We will be tested - but will succeed. "Our greatest generation was not in the past and better times are yet to come".

With infections rising, the senate bill's injection for hospitals could be among the bill's most effective element in fighting the pandemic, as it will help facilities restock protective gear, intensive care beds and ventilators and other medical equipment. Married couples earning less than $150,000 will receive a one time payment of $2,400. Anyone making more than $99,000 won't receive a payment at all and the threshold doubles for couples. The block also would also extend to companies controlled by their children, spouses or in-laws.

The White House has indicated that Americans could be seeing direct payments as soon as April 6. The IRS may also release the payments in the form of debit cards, a Republican aide said.

The benefit also applies to those who have no income or receive social security income.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, called it a "wartime level of investment into our nation". "After days of intense discussion, the Senate has reached a bipartisan agreement on a historic relief package for this pandemic". This is not even a stimulus package. "Emergency relief. That's what this is".

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

Passage in the Senate had been delayed for hours on Wednesday by objections from four GOP senators over expanded unemployment benefits for low wage workers.

The stimulus also beefs up unemployment insurance by increasing the maximum benefit by $600 per week for the next four months.

An inspector general to oversee $500 billion in loans the Treasury Department will distribute to industries affected by the pandemic and a new five-person congressional committee to conduct oversight of the federal government's spending on the COVID-19 response. Their children, spouses and in-laws also can not benefit.

Nonetheless, he tore into certain provisions in the legislation - including $25 million for the Kennedy Center, a Washington D.C. performing house.