US set to clear $2 trillion Covid-19 relief package
The rescue package aims to help businesses with loans and individuals with direct payments to deal with the economic challenges presented by Covid-19.Updated: Mar 25, 2020 23:26 IST
US Sensate and White House reached an agreement early Wednesday on a $2 trillion rescue package for the American economy battered by the coronavirus outbreak that has killed more than 700 people and shut down large parts of the country, including businesses, leading to a spike in unemployment.
The rescue package, which is the largest so far in modern American history, includes direct payments of $1,200 checks to some American adults and $500 to children, $367 billion in loans to small businesses and $500 billion for companies, cities and states — $3 billion for New York state, for instance, which has been the hardest hit with more than 17,000 cases and 210 deaths. It is also expected to provide unemployment benefit for gig workers such as Uber drivers.
“This is a very important bipartisan piece of legislation that is going to be very important to help American workers, American business and people across America,” treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin, who led the White House team at the negotiations, told reporters early Wednesday morning. “We couldn’t be more pleased,” he added.
The agreement, which followed five days of long and protracted negotiations that played out publicly in acrimonious congressional debate exchange of blame outside, is expected to be legislated expeditiously in view of the ongoing and worsening situation around the country.
Businesses have been hit, large and small, especially airlines, hospitality and travel, and job losses have shot up; a senior Trump administration official has said the unemployment rate could rise as high as to 20%.
At around 1 am Wednesday, the White House and US senate leaders announced they had reached an agreement. The senate is expected to pass the legislation later Wednesday.
“This is a wartime level of investment into our nation,” said Mitch McConnell, the senate’s Republican leader, on the floor of the chamber after the agreement was reached.
“The men and women of the greatest country on Earth are going to defeat this coronavirus and reclaim our future,” he said.
The next steps are not clear now. To be sent to the White House for the president’s signature, the legislation will have to be passed by the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives, which is not in session. It can, however, clear the legislation by unanimous consent, by passing a vote.