After days of uncertainty and arguments between Republicans and Democrats, a deal has been reached on a nearly $2 trillion stimulus package intended to combat the economic fallout caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The bill, which is the largest ever proposed, is meant to provide direct financial assistance to hospitals, businesses, and individuals. According to those involved in the negotiations, it includes $300 billion for small business, $150 billion for local and state governments, and $130 billion for hospitals. If the bill passes Congress, it would be the most significant legislative action taken to address the coronavirus crisis.
Through Monday night and all day Tuesday, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) negotiated the terms. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the final bill would represent a compromise between Senate Republicans and Democrats—who halted the bill’s progress in order to ensure more financial aid went to workers.
“At last we have a deal,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said. “At 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.”
This stimulus package is the third proposed by Congress to address the fallout from the pandemic. First, there was an $8.3 billion bill largely aimed at developing a vaccine. Then, a second package passed last week mandating greater access to paid sick leave for workers as well as free COVID-19 testing.
At a time in which many Americans have lost their jobs or have to stay home from school (or both), the $2 trillion bill is expected to include direct payments of $1,200 or less to most adults, loans to businesses, and an expansion of unemployment insurance.
Officials are hopeful that the one-time payments can get to Americans as soon as early April.
Schumer said negotiators agreed to put “unemployment insurance on steroids” by expanding those covered to include people 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 unemployment compensation: “It will put money into the hands of those who need it so much, because they have lost their jobs through no fault of their own.”
Schumer also called the bill “the largest rescue package in American history.”
“This is not a moment of celebration—but of necessity,” he said.