US Senate passes $2 trillion COVID-19 aid package

The Senate passed the $2.2 trillion emergency stimulus package to assist the overly stressed health-care system and tumbling economy Wednesday night.

"This is not a juicy political opportunity", the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, said in a remarks from the floor on Monday.

The bill sets aside $250 billion for direct payments to individuals and families, $350 billion in small business loans, $250 billion in unemployment insurance benefits and $500 billion in loans for distressed companies. More than 68,000 people in the United States have been infected with the deadly respiratory disease and some economists warn that unemployment could hit 30 per cent. He said the House of Representatives will consider the bill on Friday. Mr Trump had urged Congress to act "without delay" and said he would sign the legislation immediately.

"I just wanted to make it clear that I will not sit back, nor should anybody sit back and allow these guys to attack the needs of low-income workers, especially at a time when in this particular bill there are $500 billion available to the President for all kinds of corporate welfare and chicanery", he added. 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 unprecedented stimulus package, which all of Washington has urged speedy passage of, now proceeds to the House.

The White House and Congress leaders have struck a mega $2 trillion stimulus deal to provide economic relief to Americans amid coronavirus concerns. The 880-page bill's specifics were hammered out on Tuesday in a marathon negotiating session between Senate Democratic leaders and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

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"I am prepared to put a hold on this bill ... to make sure that any corporation receiving financial assistance under this legislation does not lay off workers, cut wages or benefits, ship jobs overseas, or pay workers poverty wages", Sanders said. Two members of the House and one senator have recently tested positive for the coronavirus illness COVID-19.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) said Wednesday that he supports holding a voice vote, which would ensure House members don't have to return if they don't want to for health or safety reasons.

The outbreak has touched directly on Congress, where three lawmakers have reported testing positive for the coronavirus and several others are in self-quarantine. This bill passed nearly two months to the day after senators were first briefed on the potential threat of the coronavirus (two legislators promptly sold stock to avoid losing money as the market tumbled).

Republicans panned the House bill as being bogged down with unrelated goodies, including climate change provisions.

Another delay was happening behind the scenes.

The US Senate has approved a historic $2 trillion bill to stimulate the sagging US economy. Some are already questioning whether the allocation makes sense: Governor Andrew Cuomo says NY state-where infection rates are soaring, due to the fact that it has the country's most population-dense city-is only getting a "drop in the bucket" with about $5.3 billion.

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