WASHINGTON—With rare bipartisanship and speed, Washington is about to deliver massive, unprecedented legislation to speed help to people and businesses as the CCP virus pandemic takes a devastating toll on the U.S. economy and health care system.
The House is set to pass the sprawling $2.2 trillion measure on Friday morning after an extraordinary 96-0 Senate vote late Wednesday. President Donald Trump marveled at the unanimity Thursday and is eager to sign the package into law.
The relief can hardly come soon enough. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said Thursday the economy “may well be in recession” already, and the government reported a shocking 3.3 million burst of weekly jobless claims, more than four times the previous record. The U.S. death toll has surpassed 1,200 from the virus.
The legislation will pour $1,200 direct payments to individuals and a flood of subsidized loans, grants, and tax breaks to businesses facing extinction in an economic shutdown caused as Americans self-isolate by the tens of millions.
But key elements are untested, such as grants to small businesses to keep workers on payroll and complex lending programs to larger businesses. Millions of rebate payments will go to people who have retained their jobs.
Policymakers worry that bureaucracies like the Small Business Administration may become overwhelmed, and conservatives fear that a new, generous unemployment benefit will dissuade jobless people from returning to the workforce. A new $500 billion subsidized lending program for larger businesses is unproven as well.
First the measure must clear Congress. Leaders in both parties had hoped to pass the measure with a sparsely attended voice vote—remarkable for a bill of such magnitude—so scattered lawmakers dont have to risk exposure by traveling back to Washington.
But now it is feared iconoclastic Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.), an opponent of the bill, may seek to force a roll call vote. Democratic leaders summoned members back to Washington, at least those who are able and willing to return.
Fridays House session will also be unprecedented. Originally scheduled as a non-working “pro forma” meeting, the session will be extended to a debate on the bill—all conducted under social distancing rules to minimize the risk of transmitting the virus.
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), one of the Houses conservative leaders, said he wasnt aware of anyone planning to block a voice vote Friday but planned to talk more with colleagues before the vote.
“If thats the method used to get this to the American people, to get this passed, then I think lots of members are probably OK with that,” Jordan said Thursday as he drove back to Washington. “I know the plan is for it to be a voice vote, and thats what the leadership has said theyre for, and I think thats fine.”
Wednesday nights unanimous Senate vote on the bill was especially striking—a united front that followed days of sometimes tumultuous negotiations and partisan eruptions. Democrats twice voted to block the bill to seek further add-ons and changes.
“The power of the argument that we had—that you need a strong government to solve these problems, both health and economic—carried the day,” Chuck Schumer told The Associated Press on Thursday. “Had we not stood up on those two votes it wouldnt have happened.”
Underscoring the efforts sheer magnitude, the bill finances a response with a price tag that equals half the size of the entire $4 trillion-plus annual federal budget. The $2.2 trillion estimate is the White Houses best guess of the spending it contains.
The rescue bill would provide one-time direct payments to Americans of $1,200 per adult making up to $75,000 a year and $2,400 to a married couple making up to $150,000, with $500 payments per child.
Unemployment insurance would be made Read More – Source