White House, Senate Reach Deal on $2 Trillion Coronavirus Stimulus Package
U.S. Congress

White House, Senate Reach Deal on $2 Trillion Coronavirus Stimulus Package

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The White House and Senate leaders struck a major deal early Wednesday morning on a massive $2-trillion relief package aimed at jolting the economy from the detrimental impact amid the coronavirus outbreak crisis. 

The announcement caps five days of intense negotiations between senators and the White House that produced the most expensive and far-reaching bipartisan measures in the history of Congress. Before a deal was reached, stock market rose sharply Tuesday in anticipation of the deal, with the Dow Jones industrial average surging more than 2,100 points, or 11.4 percent. 

“Ladies and gentleman, we are done,” White House legislative affairs director Eric Ueland said right before 1 a.m. ET. “We have a deal. Much of the work on the bill text has been completed and I’m hopeful over the next few hours it will be finished. We will circulate it early in the morning.”

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Trump was “pleased” with the deal and urged Pelosi to take up and pass the Senate bill without any changes.

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“This is a very important bipartisan legislation that is going to be very important to help American workers, American business. We couldn’t be more pleased. I’ve spoken to the president, many times today, and he’s very pleased with this legislation, and the impact that this is going to have,” Mnuchin said after the final meeting.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) took to the senate floor shortly after to announce that a deal had been reached with an expecting vote once the Senate resumes at noon on Wednesday. 

“At last we have a deal,” McConnell said, calling it as “a war-time level of investment” for the nation. “After days of intense discussions, the Senate has reached a bipartisan agreement on a historic relief package for this pandemic.”

The full detail of the text have yet to be released, but lawmakers have indicated on Tuesday that the Republican’s initial proposal on direct cash payments would be included.

Under the revamped Senate proposal known as the ‘CARES Act’ plan, people making up to $75,000 a year are expected to receive a check of $1,200. Couples making $150,000 will receive $2,400 with an additional $500 per child. It removes the phase-in provision that excluded lower-income Americans from receiving the full benefit. The payments would decrease for those making more than $75,000, with an income cap of $99,000 per individual or $198,000 for couples.

The bill is expected to also include $100 billion in assistance for hospitals, $367 billion in small businesses loans to keep making payroll while workers are forced to stay home, $250 billion set aside for direct payments to individuals and families, $500 billion in aid for distressed corporations, such as airline companies and cruise ship industry, that have been hurt by the coronavirus outbreak and $250 billion to bolstered unemployment insurance benefits that will increase payments and extend the benefit to those who do not qualify such as gig workers, freelancers, and furloughed employees.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) hailed the legislation as “the largest rescue package in American history.”

“We have a bipartisan agreement on the largest rescue package in American history. This is not a moment of celebration but one of necessity,” Schumer said. “This bill is far from perfect, but we believe the legislation has been improved significantly to warrant its quick consideration and passage.”

Congress has already passed two much smaller coronavirus relief bills — an $8.3 billion emergency House bill passed earlier this month supplemental for the health-care system, and a $100-billion bill passed last week provided free coronavirus testing, paid emergency leave for those who are infected, Medicaid funding, food assistance and unemployment benefits.

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Mona Salama