The United States Senate, after days of discussions with the White House, on Wednesday passed an unprecedented emergency bill that would send some $2 trillion in aid to businesses, workers, state and local governments and a healthcare system overwhelmed by the coronavirus pandemic.
The Senate, where Republicans have a narrow majority, is scheduled to have a vote on the proposal in the afternoon; the bill is likely to pass there, but the timeframe is not clear for a vote in the lower chamber, which is now on recess due to the coronavirus.
"Here we are in the midst of the worst economic downturn perhaps since the Great Depression, tens of millions of people are anxious to death about how they're going to feed their families, pay their rent, prevent a foreclosure", Sanders added. Anyone making more than $99,000 won't receive a payment at all and the threshold doubles for couples. Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib tweeted that she is angry the Senate bill doesn't help people whose water was shut off for lack of payment during the outbreak.
"This funding should be sufficient to offset the economic hit to states, though this will also depend on the rise in costs that states face as a result of increased benefit payments and the direct cost of the health response", Goldman Sachs economists said in a note. Republicans accused Democrats of dragging their feet and trying to squeeze more priorities into the bill while the crisis mounted.
"We should have passed this last Sunday". John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) said.
Earlier in the day, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said no policy will fully end the economic hardship faced by the country as long as public health requires much of the country stay closed. "After days of intense discussions, the Senate has reached a bipartisan agreement on a historic relief package for this pandemic". "The Senate will act to help the people of this country weather this storm. It is emergency relief".
The Republican critics secured a Wednesday evening vote on an amendment to cap unemployment benefits at 100% of the wages workers received while employed, but the amendment did not pass.
Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer called it an "outstanding agreement".
The largest chunk of money provided by the bill goes to large industries and corporations, with $500 billion provided for a host of industries deemed vital to the economy, including at least $32 billion for the airline industry.
The stimulus also beefs up unemployment insurance by increasing the maximum benefit by $600 per week for the next four months. The Treasury Department would have to disclose the terms of loans or other aid to companies and a new Treasury inspector general would oversee the lending program.
The legislation also ensures that Trump, 73, and other government officials and members of Congress won't receive loans or investments from Treasury programs, CNN and The Washington Post reported. Their children, spouses and in-laws also can not benefit.
Another $25 billion goes to public transit systems, $4.35 billion of that to NY - with $3.8 billion for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, whose ridership collapsed as COVID-19 spread.
Nonetheless, he tore into certain provisions in the legislation - including $25 million for the Kennedy Center, a Washington D.C. performing house.