Deal reached on $2 -trillion stimulus bill
$2-trillion agreement includes payments to many Americans plus aid for corporations and small businesses.
White House, Democrats agree to package offering cash to most Americans and aid for big and small businesses.
WASHINGTON — After haggling for days over the final details, Senate Democrats and the White House agreed Wednesday to a nearly $2-trillion stimulus package to combat the economic fallout of the coronavirus outbreak, including direct payments to most Americans and a half-trillion-dollar fund to shore up struggling companies.
The price tag of the stimulus bill — by far the largest ever proposed — is 9% of the U.S. gross domestic product and is meant to provide direct financial aid to individuals, hospitals and businesses. It includes $300 billion for small businesses, $150 billion for local and state governments and $130 billion for hospitals, according to those involved in the negotiations.
Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) negotiated through Monday night and all day Tuesday to resolve outstanding issues.
A Senate vote on the deal could occur by midday Wednesday, with the House potentially following soon after.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said shortly after 1 a.m. in Washington that the package “will rush new resources onto the front lines of our nation’s healthcare fight. And it will inject trillions of dollars in cash into the economy as fast as possible to help American workers, families, small businesses and industries make it through this disruption and emerge on the other side ready to soar.”
House members have not returned from their scheduled recess, and remote voting is not allowed. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (DSan Francisco) indicated Tuesday that the fastest way for the House to approve the Senate bill would be by unanimous consent, which requires the consent of all current 430 House members, meaning a single representative could object, as long as he or she is on the floor to do so.
If that happens, Pelosi said she would probably need to call back the entire chamber for an in-person vote, which would also raise health risks and logistical challenges for members. It could also lead to potential changes to the legislation that would have to be reconciled with the Senate.
Despite unusually bitter partisan bickering Monday on the Senate floor, Pelosi said earlier in the day that the final bill would represent a solid compromise between Senate Republicans — who crafted the initial draft with Democrat input — and Democrats, who delayed passage to ensure it included more of their priorities. “We think the bill has moved sufficiently to the side of workers,” she said.
The measure is the third stimulus bill proposed by Congress to address the economic and social disruptions of the pandemic. It follows an $8.3-billion measure largely aimed at developing a vaccine and a second package-that mandated free COVID-19 testing and greater access to sick leave.
The latest bill is expected to include direct payments of up to $1,200 to most adults, loans to businesses and an expansion of unemployment insurance and other aspects of the social safety net. It comes as millions of Americans have been asked to stay away from school and work, and remain inside their homes to reduce the spread of the disease.
The amounts of the onetime payments, which could go out as soon as early April, will be based on income reported in 2018 taxes, declining gradually starting with individuals making $75,000 or married couples filing jointly who made $150,000. Individuals making $99,000 or above or married couples making $198,000 or more would receive no check. People would also receive $500 per child.
Schumer said negotiators agreed to put “unemployment insurance on steroids” by expanding coverage to those who are furloughed, gig workers and freelancers, and by increasing the payments by $600 dollars per week for four months on top of what states provide as a base compensation.
Other changes to the final bill included increased oversight of the $500-billion fund managed by the Treasury to shore up businesses through loans and loan guarantees. Recipients are expected to include hard-hit travel sectors.
Those involved in negotiations said the deal includes around $130 billion for hospitals short on medical masks, ventilators and beds ahead of an expected wave of cases — a $25-billion increase from what was initially proposed. And it provides $150 billion directly to state and local governments dealing with the outbreak.