US Senate passes $2 trillion bill for virus crisis

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Do you qualify for a stimulus check in Senate’s coronavirus response bill?

The legislation was still being drafted but McConnell said the Senate would vote on it Wednesday.

The Senate passed the $2.2 trillion emergency stimulus package to assist the overly stressed health-care system and tumbling economy Wednesday night. The legislation represents the largest emergency aid package in United States history and the most significant legislative action taken to address the rapidly intensifying coronavirus crisis, which is overwhelming hospitals and grinding much of the economy to a halt. It is meant to flood the economy with cash in a bid to stem the impact of a pandemic that has killed more than 900 people in the United States and infected at least 60,000. As Schumer said on the Senate floor: "Like all compromises, this bill is far from ideal".

A group of Senate Republicans - Lindsey Graham, Tim Scott, Ben Sasse and Rick Scott - had voiced last-minute concerns, saying the bill's unemployment assistance provision allows jobless Americans to make more money under unemployment than if they were working normally.

Democrats scoffed in response, noting that employees can not collect unemployment if they leave their jobs voluntarily.

Several senators missed votes because they were self-quarantined. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi asked on CNN. Jared Bernstein, who worked on the Recovery Act as chief economist to former Vice President Joe Biden in the Obama White House, said during an interview with Politico.

The measure cleared the Senate 96-0 after days of tumultuous, sometimes bitter negotiations and debate, as the U.S. death toll for the pandemic soared past 1,000, with 68,000 confirmed infections.

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer of NY said there's no way to know when the "plague" will end in the U.S.

It was unclear, however, how quickly the bill would get to Trump's desk.

Trump tweeted Wednesday that four hospitals being built in NY with federal assistance "are moving along very well, ahead of schedule".

A voice vote is procedural move that would avoid a recorded roll call vote, which would have forced members now dispersed throughout the country to travel back to Washington to get the stimulus across the finish line.

The massive relief package includes loans and loan forgivenesses, tax breaks, direct payments to corporations and individuals, and expansions to unemployment benefits.

A companion appropriations package ballooned as well, growing from a $46 billion White House proposal to $330 billion, which dwarfs earlier disasters - including Hurricane Katrina and Superstorm Sandy combined. The money at stake amounts to almost half of the $4.7 trillion the USA government spends annually.

Investors were cheered by the news of the deal. St. Patrick's day was normally a hugely busy day for her. Those whose incomes are higher will see smaller checks.

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.

Later, Trump appeared to retreat from his Easter goal at a news conference alongside Fauci.

Wall Street stocks closed mixed Wednesday as the markets awaited a vote on the rescue package, the third of its kind in the past month, but by far the largest.

And on Wednesday he added there was more to come: 'This is certainly not the end of our work here in Congress, rather the end of the beginning'.

The governors of at least 18 states, including NY, have issued stay-at-home directives affecting about half the US population.

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