WASHINGTON – The White House and Senate leaders of both U.S. political parties have struck an agreement on a sweeping $2 trillion measure to aid workers, businesses and a health care system strained by the rapidly spreading coronavirus outbreak.
Top White House aide Eric Ueland announced the agreement in a Capitol hallway shortly after midnight. The agreement comes after days of often intense haggling and mounting pressure and still needs to be finalized in detailed legislative language.
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.
Senate leaders made comments from the Senate floor after the deal was reached around 1AM.
Sen. Chuck Schumer: "After five days of arduous negotiations, after sleep-deprived nights and marathon negotiating sessions, we have a bipartisan agreement on the largest rescue package in American history." https://t.co/vvzWkNkKOO pic.twitter.com/dmAoHgBUH2
— ABC News (@ABC) March 25, 2020
Among provision in the package:
- $150B to the Strategic National Stockpile for the healthcare system
- $500B in aid for corporations, including airline companies and cruise lines, that have been hurt by the outbreak
- $350B for small businesses impacted by the pandemic in the form of loans; some of those loans could be forgiven
- Expanded Unemployment Insurance — Will allow for four months of full pay for those furloughed as a result of the crisis, and will also raise the maximum unemployment insurance benefit by $600
- Direct checks to middle class and lower income levels — likely $1,200 to most American adults – $500 to children
- 150B to state and local governments to address spending shortages related to the coronavirus pandemic
- Bill prohibits businesses controlled by the president, vice president, members of Congress and heads of executive departments from participating in the loan or investment programs. Children, spouses and other relatives will also be banned.
- Bans stock buybacks for the term of government assistance plus an additional year for any company receiving a government loan from the bill.
- Establishes worker protections attached to federal loans for businesses and prohibits airlines from using the funds for CEO bonuses.