Covid19 News

Senate to vote Wednesday on $2 trillion coronavirus spending bill

“This is a very important bipartisan piece of legislation that is going to be very important to help American workers, American business and people across America,” Mnuchin told reporters early Wednesday morning. “We couldn’t be more pleased.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) gave an upbeat assessment of the bill early Wednesday, but the logistics of the legislation’s passage through the House remain unclear. The House could likely vote as soon as Thursday on the measure, but New York Governor Andrew Cuomo was demanding changes on Wednesday and it appeared it was taking lawmakers longer than expected to release the final text. Nearly half of the country’s 55,000 cases are in New York, and the health care system around New York City is completely overwhelmed.

Cuomo said the bill would be “terrible” for his state and added that “We need the House to make adjustments.”

The Senate bill, unprecedented in its size and scope, would send $1,200 checks to many Americans, create a $367 billion loan program for small businesses, and establish a $500 billion lending fund for industries, cities and states.

The legislation ensures that these taxpayer-backed loans cannot go to firms owned by President Trump, other White House officials or members of Congress. This would suggest that Trump-owned properties, including hotels that have been impacted, cannot seek taxpayer assistance.

Other provisions include $150 billion for state and local stimulus funds and $130 billion for hospitals.

Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and President Trump listen as Vice President Pence speaks during a news briefing at the White House on March 24.
Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and President Trump listen as Vice President Pence speaks during a news briefing at the White House on March 24. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

It would significantly boost unemployment insurance benefits, expanding eligibility and offering workers an additional $600 a week for four months, on top of what state unemployment programs pay. Millions of Americans have filed for unemployment benefits in the past few weeks, flooding a system that isn’t designed to cope with a sudden wave of applicants.

As the bill was coming together in the final days, Democrats fought to make numerous changes. For example, the White House and Republicans agreed to allow an oversight board and create a Treasury Department special inspector general for pandemic recovery to scrutinize the lending decisions and detect abusive or fraudulent behavior.

“Every loan document will be public and made available to Congress very quickly, so we can see where the money is going, what the terms are and if it’s fair to the American people,” Schumer said on the Senate floor Wednesday.

After Senate passage, the next step is a little less clear. The House is out of session, so action there could take longer, depending on whether lawmakers can agree to pass the bill by “unanimous consent,” which would require agreement from all members of the chamber.

But some liberals and conservatives have already hinted they could oppose it.

Tuesday began with all parties predicting a deal would be imminent, along with a vote by Tuesday evening. But as the hours dragged on, multiple disputes arose and legislative language required close review.

Finally, as midnight neared Tuesday, the pace of shuttle diplomacy picked up on the second floor of the Capitol, as Mnuchin, White House Legislative Affairs Director Eric Ueland and the newly named White House chief of staff, Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), met alternately with McConnell and Schumer, who was in frequent contact with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).

“You know, I wouldn’t say there were any thorny, any particular thorny issues. This is a very complicated piece of legislation. It’s a very large investment in the U.S. economy,” Mnuchin told reporters after the deal was struck. “And people worked tirelessly around the clock going through the documents. So, again, couldn’t be more pleased.”

Mnuchin said Trump would “absolutely, absolutely, absolutely” sign the bill.

The package would extend extraordinary taxpayer assistance to potentially millions of companies that have been hammered by the fast-moving economic crisis. The bill is being rushed through Congress without public hearings or formal review, and it’s unclear how effective the measures would be in arresting the economy’s sudden fall. But lawmakers said they had little choice but to try.

“This is not a moment of celebration but one of necessity,” Schumer said.

After falling 10,000 points in 10 weeks, the Dow Jones industrial average began showing signs of life Tuesday in anticipation of a deal. It surged more than 2,100…

Source Website Senate to vote Wednesday on $2 trillion coronavirus spending bill

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