Deal reportedly near on package of rescue aid
WASHINGTON — Congressional and White House officials said Tuesday they were closing out final details of unprecedented legislation to rush sweeping aid to businesses and workers facing ruin from the coronavirus pandemic.
After days of pressure, unusual partisanship in a crisis, and intense haggling over the fine print, negotiators appeared almost done with a nearly $2 trillion bill to respond to what Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called “the most serious threat to Americans’ health in over a century and quite likely the greatest risk to America’s jobs and prosperity that we’ve seen since the Great Depression.” The final details proved nettlesome as Trump administration officials continued negotiations deep into the night.
Yet even as the publichealth crisis deepened, President Trump expressed eagerness to nudge many people back to work in coming weeks and held out a prospect, based more on hope than science, that the country could be returning to normal in less than a month.
“We have to go back to work, much sooner than people thought,” he told a Fox News town hall. He said he’d like to have the country “opened up and just raring to go” by Easter, April 12. Medical professionals say social distancing needs to be stepped up, not relaxed, to slow the spread of infections.
Treasury Secretary Steven
Mnuchin and congressional leaders engaged in final negotiations after a tumultuous but productive day on Monday. While the two sides have resolved many issues in the sweeping package, some sticking points remained. A Senate vote appeared likely on Wednesday, with a House vote to follow.
“We’re trying to finalize all the documents, going through a lot of complicated issues, and we’re making a lot of progress,” Mnuchin said.
Ravaged in recent days, stocks rocketed as negotiators signaled a resolution was in sight.
At issue is an unprecedented economic rescue package that would give direct payments to most Americans, expanded unemployment benefits, and a $367 billion program for small businesses to keep making payroll while workers are forced to stay home. One of the last issues to close concerned $500 billion for guaranteed, subsidized loans to larger industries.
A onetime payment of $1,200 per person, or $3,000 for a family of four, would go directly to the public.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin (second from left) arrives at the U.S. Capitol to continue negotiations on a $2 trillion economic stimulus plan in response to the pandemic.