The US Senate has passed a coronavirus stimulus package worth $2 trillion, the largest economic stimulus in the history of the country.
The $2 trillion disaster aid bill passed by the US Senate to combat the effects of the coronavirus pandemic includes direct payments of $1,200 to most American adults and aid to help small businesses pay workers.
Voting was delayed by a last-minute disagreement between Republican and Democratic senators regarding unemployment benefits.
Republican senators Tim Scott, Rick Scott, Ben Sasse and Lindsey Graham explained that the coronavirus stimulus package would provide “a strong incentive for employees to be laid off instead of going to work”.
Senator Bernie Sanders said he would oppose the bill unless the Republicans dropped their objections and demanded tougher conditions on the legislation’s “corporate welfare”. In the end the Republican senators were allowed a vote on their amendment, which failed.
The Senate unanimously approved the bill with a 96-0 vote. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he was “proud” that not a single senator voted against the bill.
Provisions of the bill
Senator Chuck Schumer said: “And so this is a good ending, twists and turns were enormous. I always had faith we would [pass this bill] because America and the American people demanded it.”
Provisions of the bill include direct payments of $1,200 to millions of individuals who earn $75,000 or less, and an additional $500 per each child and an expansion of unemployment aid including payments to people who are self-employed or work in the gig economy.
It also included a $500 billion fund to help companies, which includes loans to hard-hit sectors such as the airline industry, $350 billion in loans for small businesses, and $100 billion for hospitals and related health systems on the frontlines of the pandemic.
Senator McConnell referred to the relief package as a “wartime level of investment” in the US nation.