White House & Senate Leaders Strike Deal On Historic $2 Trillion Coronavirus Bailout

Remigio Civitarese
Marzo 26, 2020

The Senate passed the unprecedented package of loans, tax breaks and direct payments on a 96-0 vote late Wednesday night, an illustration of unity in Washington as the spread of the virus grinds the economy to a halt. It will also raise the maximum unemployment insurance benefit by $600 per week. It will apply to traditional workers for small and large businesses as well as those who are self-employed and workers in the gig economy. This was a key Democratic initiative, which Schumer dubbed "unemployment insurance on steroids".

In addition, the bill would provide a major amount of funding for hard-hit hospitals - $130 billion - as well as $150 billion for state and local governments that are cash-strapped due to their response to coronavirus. Of that, $100 billion will go to hospitals and the health system and $1 billion to the Indian Health Service.

State and local governments: $150 billion will go to help state and local governments weather the outbreak, including a minimum of $1.5 billion per state and $8 billion for tribal governments.

The precise details of the fiscal package are yet to be disclosed, though it is expected to include around $350 billion in small business loans and a further $500 billion for distressed companies, such as airlines. 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.

"We will have a debate and a voice vote".

President Trump and top members of his administration gave their strong support to the bill Wednesday.

The deal was done after five days of talks, with Democrats pushing for more safeguards for American workers alongside some of the corporate measures.

Trump emphasized Wednesday that would immediately sign the bill once passed by both houses of Congress.

That would also require the unanimous consent of all House Republicans.

"Nobody thinks legislation can end this [coronavirus crisis]", McConnell said Wednesday.

The House is preparing for a vote on the relief package unanimously passed by the Senate; Mike Emanuel reports from Capitol Hill. The White House also shrugged off the GOP lawmakers' concerns, with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin saying the generous plan was included for speed and efficiency of relief, adding that he hoped there would be few abuses since most Americans prefer to keep their jobs. "It's taken a lot of noise and a lot of rhetoric to get us here", he said on the Senate floor Tuesday morning.

The bill includes $500 billion for large corporations as the USA grapples with a major economic freefall putting it on the verge of a full-blown recession as well as a $367 billion loan program for small businesses and $150 billion for assistance to state and local governments. Democrats secured concessions on all three in the final deal.

The plan also includes several Democratic oversight initiatives.

In a letter to his fellow Democrats, Schumer highlighted a series of transparency measures that would prevent keeping loans secret and create a new inspector general to oversee the program.

It also prohibits businesses controlled by the president, vice president, members of Congress and heads of executive departments from participating in the loan or investment programs, Schumer's office said. There are layers of proposals within each of the umbrellas I just mentioned, like providing direct funding to transit authorities to help them through the slowdown, changing zoning regulations to promote dense development, providing no-interest loans for local governments to build parks, supporting indigenous farming practices and protecting native seeds, and ending fossil fuel subsidies and directing those funds to help workers transition to new jobs.

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