Senate Passes $2 Trillion Emergency COVID-19 Relief Package

Mimi Nguyen Ly
By Mimi Nguyen Ly
March 26, 2020COVID-19
Senate Passes $2 Trillion Emergency COVID-19 Relief Package
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) gives a thumbs up sign after speaking on the floor of the U.S. Senate in Washington, D.C., on March 25, 2020. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

The U.S. Senate unanimously voted late Wednesday to pass a $2.2 trillion emergency relief package to help protect American livelihoods, hospitals, and an economy rattled by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 96-0 vote in the Senate means the bill will now move to the House of Representatives, which is expected to vote on Friday.

“I encourage the house to pass this vital legislation and send it to my desk for signature without delay. I will sign it immediately,” Trump said earlier on Wednesday during his daily White House Coronavirus Task Force briefing.

“The Senate is going to stand together, act together, and pass this historic relief package today,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

The 880-page measure, the third coronavirus response bill produced by Congress, is the largest-ever rescue package in U.S. history. It builds on previous funding efforts focused on vaccines and emergency response, sick and family medical leave for workers, and food aid.

The latest bill includes $350 billion in job retention loans for small businesses that will supply eight weeks of salaries, with loan forgiveness available as long as businesses keep up with overheads and employing their workers.

It also includes a $500 billion program for guaranteed, subsidized loans to larger industries, including airlines.

Hospitals are expected to receive at least $100 billion to deal with the incoming flood of COVID-19 patients. The bill also provides $45 billion to fund additional relief efforts through the Federal Emergency Management Agency for local emergency response and community services.

Americans are set to receive a one-time direct payment of $1,200 per adult making up to $75,000 a year, and $2,400 per married couple making up to $150,000, with $500 payments per child.

The package also provides up to $250 billion in expanded unemployment benefits, intended to help replace the salaries of furloughed workers for up to four months. Furloughed workers will get whatever amount their state usually provides for unemployment, plus a $600 per week add-on. Independent contractors and those who are self-employed will, for the first time, be eligible for the benefits.

Several Republican senators on Wednesday insisted that the bill be amended to ensure that laid-off workers would not be paid more in unemployment benefits than they earn at their job. But an amendment that would have changed the provision failed just before the Senate approved the relief package.

Democrats earlier twice blocked the $2 trillion emergency package.

Last night, White House official Eric Ueland said that the White House and the Republican senators seeking the amendment had reached an agreement on the relief package, allowing the amendment to go to vote.

The Epoch Times refers to the novel coronavirus, which causes the disease COVID-19, as the CCP virus because the Chinese Communist Party’s coverup and mismanagement allowed the virus to spread throughout China and create a global pandemic.

The pandemic has killed more than 1,000 people in the United States and infected more than 69,000 to date, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

Confirmed cases of the CCP virus continue to rise in the United States as testing improves and testing centers work through the backlog in samples.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

From The Epoch Times

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