The U.S. Senate is nearing a vote on a gargantuan $2 trillion aid package meant to bolster Americans and businesses caught in the thick of the coronavirus pandemic.
The White House and Senate leaders announced an agreement was reached which paves the way for a vote in which the spending omnibus is almost certain to clear the chamber and head to the House of Representatives.
“The Senate is going to stand together, act together, and pass this historic relief package today,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on the Senate floor, calling the bill a "war-time level of investment into our nation."
"After days of intense discussions the Senate has reached a bipartisan agreement on a historic relief package for this pandemic. It will rush new resources on to the front lines of our nation's healthcare fight, and it will inject trillions of dollars of 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," he added.
The 500-page bill includes $500 billion for large corporations as the U.S. grapples with a major economic free fall putting it on the verge of a full-blown recession, as well as a $367 billion loan program for small businesses and $150 billion for assistance to state and local governments.
Individual Americans will be eligible for $1,200 in direct payments, and additional $500 payments per qualifying child so long as their annual income does not exceed $75,000, or $150,000 if a household files joint returns. Unemployment insurance is also being increased, while payments on federally-held student loans are being temporarily suspended.
It also includes a $340 billion supplemental package to combat the outbreak itself, including $117 billion for hospitals, $45 billion for FEMA's disaster relief fund, and $11 billion for vaccines, therapeutics and other medical needs.
The bill is the third congressional effort to aid America in the grip of the outbreak, and is the largest effort taken thus far.
A vote is expected later Wednesday, but has yet to be officially scheduled.
That will send the legislation to the House where Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said the bipartisan package "takes us a long way down the road in meeting the needs of the American people."/aa