BREAKING NEWS: White House and Senate leaders reach a deal on $2 TRILLION coronavirus bill to send cash relief to Americans
- A deal on the stimulus bill was announced just after 1am on Wednesday
- Bill would send $1,200 checks to many Americans in a one-time payment
- Includes a $367B loan program for small businesses and $500B for industries
- Senate vote is expected on Wednesday with a vote in the House to follow
- Coronavirus symptoms: what are they and should you see a doctor?
The White House has reached a deal with leaders in the Senate on a $2 trillion stimulus deal to aid recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.
The deal was announced just after 1am on Wednesday, after hours of contentious floor speeches in the Senate that appeared to leave negotiations teetering on the brink.
The legislation aims to flood the economy with capital by sending $1,200 checks to many Americans, creating a $367 billion loan program for small businesses, and setting up a $500 billion fund for industries, cities and states.
It followed days of vicious partisan infighting over what to include, in what ultimately may be the largest emergency rescue package lawmakers have ever passed.
The Senate chamber is seen shortly after 1am on Wednesday after the deal was announced
Top White House aide Eric Ueland announced the agreement in a Capitol hallway early on Wednesday.
The agreement came after days of often intense haggling and mounting pressure and still needs to be finalized in detailed legislative language.
‘Ladies and gentlemen, we are done. We have a deal,’ Ueland said.
The unprecedented economic rescue package would give direct payments to most Americans, expand unemployment benefits and provide a $367 billion program for small businesses to keep making payroll while workers are forced to stay home.
One of the last issues to close concerned $500 billion for guaranteed, subsidized loans to larger industries, including a fight over how generous to be with the airlines. Hospitals would get significant help as well.
It followed days of pressure, unusual partisanship in a crisis, and intense haggling over the fine print, negotiators were almost done with the $2 trillion bill.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called the crisis the bill is aimed to address ‘the most serous threat to Americans’ health in over a century and quite likely the greatest risk to America’s jobs and prosperity that we’ve seen since the Great Depression.’
The final details proved nettlesome as Trump administration officials continued negotiations deep into the night.
As negotiations dragged on, Senator Lindsey Graham slammed Democrats, accusing them of ‘nickling and diming people who are dying.’
Graham, a South Carolina Republican, furiously ripped his Democratic opponents in a speech from the floor, saying: ‘This bill is $2 trillion. There’s a ton of money in this bill for people who need it, but what we’re doing now is, every special-interest group in town is trying to get a little bit more — nickling and diming at a time when people are dying, literally dying.’
‘I think I understand the give-and-take of life and negotiations,’ Graham said. ‘But I’ve been called by two good friends on the Democratic side in the last five or six hours wanting more money. End the negotiations.’
Senate Democrats had previously blocked the Republican bill, claiming they want to add more protections for workers. Republicans meanwhile accused Democrats of trying to draft their own version of the legislation with a hodgepodge wish-list of unnecessary items.
‘Listen, we were told we are at the one-yard line last night to get this done,’ Senator Steve Daines, a Montana Republican, said on the Senate floor Tuesday night.
‘All I’ve got to say is, the Senate may think it’s at the one-yard line right now, but Montanans are getting sacked. In fact, our unemployment claims in Montana since march 17th, we just looked it up 15 minutes ago, 14,350 Montanans have filed for unemployment in the last week.’
Developing story, more to follow.