“A WARTIME LEVEL OF INVESTMENT”
by Sharon Rondeau
(Mar. 25, 2020) — At 1:30 Wednesday morning, the U.S. Senate agreed to pass a bill to extend financial assistance to newly-unemployed workers, businesses, hospitals and the strained healthcare system stemming from the coronavirus crisis which continues to take more American lives each day.
The bill includes a total of $2 trillion in financial aid, with cash payments to nearly all American families, according to several senators interviewed by Fox News on Wednesday morning. Payments to single workers are proposed at $1,200, and those to married couples would begin at $2,400 subject to certain income guidelines.
The measure must pass the U.S. House of Representatives, whose leader, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, had advocated on Monday a different version of a relief bill to include $35 million to the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and funds to implement the “Green New Deal,” among other initiatives not related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
During a virtual townhall with Fox News on Tuesday afternoon, Trump said he would not sign the House’s version of the relief bill.
On Tuesday afternoon, Pelosi reportedly agreed to abandon her plan and endorse the Senate’s bill, which failed twice on a procedural vote earlier in the week. Trump expressed optimism that the Senate would pass the measure in short order.
In announcing the passage of the bill early Wednesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said it will “inject trillions of dollars of cash into the economy as fast as possible to help American workers, families, small business and industries make it through this disruption and emerge on the other side ready to soar.”
The virus exploded in the U.S. after the stock market hit record highs and 273,000 jobs were created in February, a number far higher than forecasters had predicted. The unemployment rate had also reached historic lows in all demographics.
McConnell said that the bill addresses “each of the four big priorities” with expanded unemployment insurance and “historic relief to mainstreet America.” He said it will shore up “key national industries” to prevent layoffs “while keeping big companies accountable, as both sides have sought to do.”
The healthcare system will receive substantial support, McConnell said, in the form of equipment, “new medicines and vaccines.” “In effect, this is a wartime level of investment into our nation. The men and women of the greatest country on earth are going to beat this coronavirus and reclaim our future.”
Correction: This story initially reported that the Senate had passed the bill rather than having agreed in principle to it. As of 2:03 p.m. EDT, an actual Senate floor vote is still pending.