The Senate leadership of both parties reached a deal early on Wednesday morning with the Trump administration for $2 trillion in stimulus legislation designed to shield American workers and businesses from the worst effects of the coronavirus pandemic. Passage of the bill is expected to proceed swiftly in both the House and the Senate, with President Trump poised to sign when it reaches his desk.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) announced the deal on the Senate floor around 1:30 a.m., following many meetings on Tuesday with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and various White House officials.
The emergency assistance bill is the largest of its kind ever passed. Among its provisions, the bill directs the government to make payments of $1,200 to most American adults and $500 to most children within coming weeks. It sets up a $500 billion aid program for businesses, cities and states, as well as a $367 billion loan program for small businesses. And it will deliver an unprecedented increase in unemployment insurance as well as $130 billion in direct grants to hospitals.
“We’re going to take up and pass this package to care for those who are now caring for us,” said Schumer, “and help carry millions of Americans through these dark economic times.” Mnuchin said he was “pleased” with the stimulus package and promised that the president will “absolutely, absolutely, absolutely” sign the bill. The Senate discussions included constant consultation with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, wbo had publicly expressed optimism in the hours before the deal was reached.
Intense negotiations focused on the $500 billion loan program to private firms, local and state governments, which includes $58 billion for passenger and cargo airlines. Trump provoked suspicion when he said earlier that he wants a substantial subsidy for hotels — such as properties owned by the Trump organization — and vowed that he “would be the oversight” to prevent fraud and waste.
But in response to vigorous objections from Democrats, White House officials agreed to establish independent monitoring of the stimulus loan program by an oversight board and an inspector general, according to the Washington Post.