Congress Passes Economic Stimulus Package amid Pandemic

Pelosi says the House will pass coronavirus legislation

Pelosi says the House will pass coronavirus legislation

Last-minute objections threatened to derail the $2 trillion coronavirus rescue package approved by the Senate leadership and White House early Wednesday, with some Republican senators objecting to expanded unemployment coverage.

The upper chamber passed the bill in a 96-0 vote, well above the 60-vote threshold.

"The legislation, unprecedented in its size and scope, aims to flood the economy with capital by sending $1,200 checks to many Americans, creating a $367 billion loan program for small businesses and setting up a $500 billion fund for industries, cities and states", Erica Werner, Mike DeBonis, Paul Kane and Jeff Stein report for The Washington Post.

"This is a wartime level of investment into our nation", said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) in the early hours of Wednesday after the two sides had reached a deal.

A bipartisan deal on a $2 trillion economic relief package received a major boost late Wednesday despite criticism from some Republican senators who had concerns over its unemployment assistance provision.

The unanimous vote Wednesday came despite misgivings on both sides about whether it goes too far or not far enough and capped days of hard negotiations as Washington confronted a national challenge unlike it has ever faced.

More than 280 New Yorkers have died from the virus, a death toll more than double that of any other state.

The bill is the product of intense negotiations between Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

The stimulus has provisions for providing $500 billion in loans and loan guarantees to businesses affected by the COVID-19 outbreak through the treasury department. "The Senate is going to stand together, act together, and pass this historic relief package today".

He said that while Democrats inserted things in the bill that didn't deal with coronavirus, "we will still get this package done for hospitals, workers, small businesses".

Coronavirus outbreak could cause global recession, International Monetary Fund warns
The arrival of the virus in Europe and the U.S. has made things worse in financial markets and emerging markets are paying part of the bill.

"The developments of this Senate relief bill are concerning", Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) tweeted Tuesday afternoon, before the Senate agreement was finalized.

"We don't want them to go out and expose others to the potential virus just because they need a paycheck", she said. Chuck Schumer, Democrat of NY, said in a press release.

Trump urged Congress to quickly send him the bill, saying during a Wednesday press conference at the White House it would be "a great day for the American worker and for American families, and frankly for American companies".

The $2 trillion stimulus package is nearly three times the package implemented during the 2008 financial crisis.

Neither the administration nor lawmakers released details, although it's clear that $250 billion will go toward direct payments to individuals and families, while another $250 billion funds unemployment insurance and a combined $850 billion will be earmarked for small business loans and loans for distressed companies.

But while the United States bill provides much-needed support, observers continue to err towards caution with most now expecting the global economy to plunge into recession as countries go into lockdown, turning off the growth taps.

While the progress of the stimulus is in view, investors were also nervously awaiting the release later Thursday of USA jobless claims data, which is expected to show a massive rise.

Schumer boasted of negotiating wins for transit systems, hospitals and cash-hungry state governments that were cemented after Democrats blocked the measure in votes held Sunday and Monday.

McSally on Tuesday defended the original version of the bill, saying it would have provided $75 billion to hospitals, more than $1 billion to Indian Health Service, $20 billion to veterans health care and $1.7 billion for the Strategic National Stockpile for equipment such as coronavirus testing kits and ventilators.

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