US Senate passes historic $2 trillion bill to stimulate US economy

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As of Wednesday evening, there were 65,000 diagnosed cases of the highly contagious virus in the USA and more than 900 deaths.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said the bill, "ensures that laid-off workers, on average, will receive their full pay for four months".

The plan marks the largest rescue package in American history.

"It will rush new resources onto the front lines of our nation's health care fight". Previously, Republicans said this would amount to $1,200 to most American adults, among other payments. Gig economy workers impacted by COVID-19, along with other contract workers not usually eligible for unemployment benefits would be covered under the plan. It will also raise the maximum unemployment insurance benefit by $600 per week. It also has more than $350 billion to aid small businesses. This was a key Democratic initiative, which Schumer dubbed "unemployment insurance on steroids". Of that, $100 billion will go to hospitals and the health system and $1 billion to the Indian Health Service.

The plan includes about $500 billion that can be used to back loans and assistance to companies, including $50 billion for loans to US airlines, as well as state and local governments. 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. To protect members from the risks of exposure, the House will hold a voice vote on the bill.

In the days leading up to this near-final bill, much of the debate centered around Democrats' attempts to include certain green provisions, like support for the struggling renewable energy industry, and a requirement that a bailout for airlines be contingent on emission reduction promises.

The Senate is expected to vote on March 25 and President Trump will sign the bill shortly after. "I don't think there will be a need for anything else", McCarthy said. And no economic policy can fully end the hardship so long as the public health requires that we put so much of our commerce on ice.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi acknowledged the House would not be able to pass the Senate bill by unanimous consent - a process she wanted to use to avoid calling members back to the Capitol as more lawmakers are self-quarantining due to exposure to the virus.

"We still have some unfinished business", she said. House GOP leaders said they also support this strategy.

"At last, we have a deal".

The White House and Senate leaders struck a major deal early Wednesday morning on the package. Democrats secured concessions on all three in the final deal.

There has also been controversy over the stimulus plan's unemployment benefits.

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. Businesses owned by members of Congress, heads of executive departments and Vice President Mike Pence also would be blocked.

Any company receiving a government loan would be subject to a ban on stock buybacks through the term of the loan plus one additional year. 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.

Pelosi recently negotiated the second coronavirus package directly with Mnuchin and without McConnell's involvement.

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Democrats also rejected the $3 billion sought by the Trump administration to buy oil to fill the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

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