The Senate unanimously passed late Wednesday evening on a massive $2-trillion relief package aimed at jolting the economy from the detrimental impact amid the coronavirus outbreak crisis.
The 96-0 vote comes less than 24 hours ago when Senate leaders and White House officials announced that they had finally reached a deal after five days of intense negotiations that produced the most expensive and far-reaching bipartisan measures in the history of Congress.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) compared the efforts by Congress to combat the coronavirus to being on a “war-time footing.”
“This is not even a stimulus package. It is emergency relief. Emergency relief. That’s what this is,” McConnell said Wednesday afternoon ahead of the vote.
The wide-reaching bill includes a $1,200 one-time check for individuals who make up to $75,000. That amount would scale down until it reached an annual income threshold of $99,000, where it would phase out altogether.
The 880 page bill includes $250 billion for direct payments to individuals and families, $387 billions in small business loans, $100 billion for hospitals, $200 billion for other “domestic priorities,” including child care and assistance for seniors, $250 billions in unemployment insurance benefits and $500 billion in loans for distressed companies.
It also defers federal student loan payments through Sept. 30, 2020, and would prevent money given under the bill to the Pentagon to be transferred to the border wall.
In typical congress fashion, drama ensued that could have stall the effort to pass the bill into the weekend or even as early next week. Four GOP senators held a press conference before Wednesday’s vote in terms of a “drafting error” in the language of the bill related to the bolstered unemployment provisions. The four GOP senators asked for an amendment vote to cap unemployment benefits at 100 percent of salary. If they got their vote, they said, they would let McConnell speed up the bill.
Sen. Bernie Sanders retaliated back at the four GOP senators and threatened to hold up the whole package to ensure language was ensure “stronger conditions are imposed on the $500 billion corporate welfare fund to make sure that any corporation receiving financial assistance under this legislation does not lay off workers, cut wages or benefits, ship jobs overseas or pay workers poverty wages.”
McConnell gave the GOP senators a vote on their amendment, which failed 48-48. Sixty votes were required for it to pass.
The bill will now go to the House for the final vote before President Trump can sign it into law. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer announced Wednesday evening that the House will convene Friday at 9 a.m to pass the bill by a voice vote.
“Members are further advised that due to the limited flight options, Members participating in self-quarantine, and several states mandating stay-at-home orders, we expect the bill to pass by voice vote on Friday,” Hoyer said in an announcement notice to House members Wednesday evening.