Politics & Policy

House Passes $2.2 Trillion Coronavirus Relief Package

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, ahead of a vote on relief for the coronavirus disease in Washington, D.C., March 27, 2020 (Tom Brenner/Reuters)

The House passed a historic $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief bill on Friday, sending it to President Trump’s desk for signature.

The massive spending package is intended to buoy the flagging economy, which has been damaged by the coronavirus pandemic as it spreads across the country and causes businesses to shut down and lay off workers.

An agreement on the bill, which passed the Senate unanimously in a 96-to-0 vote Thursday, was reached after five days of intense negotiations between senators and senior members of the Trump administration.

Lawmakers rushed back to Washington, D.C. on Thursday after Representative Thomas Massie, a Kentucky Republican, indicated he may delay the bill by demanding a recorded vote requiring at least 216 members to appear on the floor.

The bill passed by a voice vote after lawmakers defeated Massie’s attempt to demand a recorded vote.

“Members are advised that it is possible this measure will not pass by voice vote,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said Thursday, adding that members should “follow the guidance of their local and state health officials” but if they are “able and willing” to be in Washington by 10 a.m. on Friday they are “encouraged to do so with caution.”

The bill, the third coronavirus-related spending bill passed by Congress, provides $367 billion in loans to help small businesses hit hard by the outbreak to keep making payroll, $100 billion for hospitals, and $150 billion for state and local governments. The plan also provides for Americans who make up to $75,000 to receive a one-time payment of $1,200. A $500 billion fund earmarked for corporations that have been economically damaged by the pandemic will be overseen by an inspector general and a congressional panel, in accordance with Democrats’ demands.

U.S. coronavirus cases rose by 15,000 on Thursday, bumping the total number of infected individuals to more than 82,100, above the number the virus has sickened in China, where the virus outbreak began, and Italy, which has been hit particularly hard by the pandemic. More than 1,200 people have died in the U.S. after being infected.

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