Senate passes historic $2 trillion COVID-19 relief package

Mitch McConnell

Mitch McConnell

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. "I'm going to vote for it". "I will sign it immediately", Trump said earlier on Wednesday during his daily White House Coronavirus Task Force briefing.

The final package is the result of around the clock negotiations between McConnell, Schumer, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin.

Ardent liberals like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez were restless as well, but top Washington Democrats assured them that a fourth coronavirus bill will follow this spring and signaled that delaying the pending measure would be foolish. But previous negotiations indicate that people making up to $75,000 a year are expected to receive checks for $1,200, while couples making up to $150,000 would receive $2,400, with an additional $500 per child.

Aimed at getting the money to Americans and businesses amid the pandemic, the bill's next stop is the House of Representatives, which is scheduled to vote on it Friday.

The bill also allocated $17bn to defer existing payments on Small Business Administration loans and $10bn in emergency grants to small businesses.

There was intense partisan debate over the $500 billion proposal to provide loans to distressed companies, with $50 billion in loans for passenger air carriers.

Sanders threatened earlier Wednesday to hold his support for the bill unless there was more oversight over $500 billion for corporate help.

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- That fund will include a number of transparency and oversight measures, including public disclosure of where the loan money goes, an inspector general to oversee the program, and a provision that high-level government officials can not benefit. Corporations receiving government aid would also be banned from so-called "stock buybacks" that critics say boost a company's stock price and enrich executives at the expense of workers. The bill is also seeking a bailout of underfunded multi-employer pension plans that coal miners, Teamsters and other labor groups have been pushing for, as well as a $10,000-per-borrower reduction in student loan debt.

Democrats also rejected the $3 billion sought by the Trump administration to buy oil to fill the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. "Congress has never passed a rescue package like this before".

Together with Fed intervention, the proposed legislation amounted to a $6 trillion stimulus, according to White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow, or about 30 per cent of annual GDP.

The package will likely more than double a U.S budget deficit that was already set to hit $1 trillion this year before the outbreak.

Lawmakers universally expressed a sense of urgency as the nation's economy deteriorates and the health outlook grows more dire.

But Cuomo said the Senate package would send less than $4 billion to NY, far short of his estimate that the crisis will cost his state up to $15 billion over the next year.

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