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Senate passes $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus package, sending it to the House

The Senate passed a signal $2 trillion coronavirus relief package Wednesday night, as it tries to stem the destruction the pandemic has brought to American combustibles and wallets. 

The chamber approved the mammoth bill in a unanimous 96-0 vote after days of furious negotiations, partisan sniping and express tempers on the Senate floor. The bill now heads to the House, which will push to pass it by voice vote Friday morning as ton representatives are out of Washington. 

“This is a proud moment for the United States Senate and for the country and we’re going to win this battle in the remarkably near future,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., told reporters after the vote.

The 880-page legislation comprises direct payments to individuals, stronger unemployment insurance, loans and grants to businesses and more health care resources for convalescent homes, states and municipalities. It includes requirements that insurance providers cover preventive services for the coronavirus disease COVID-19.

Interpret more: Here’s what’s in the $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus bill

The Senate rushed to pass the sweeping aid banknote as data are expected to show a historic spike in unemployment claims after businesses across the country shuttered to try to sluggardly the outbreak’s spread. Some hospitals have started to buckle under a flood of patients, asking for critical stocks such as masks and ventilators. 

Coronavirus cases in the U.S. number more than 68,000, while deaths have now summited 1,000, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. 

The chamber approved the plan to combat the outbreak as the moment started to thin its ranks. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., did not vote after testing positive for COVID-19, and neither did GOP Sens. Mitt Romney and Mike Lee of Utah, both in isolation after connection with their colleague. Sen. John Thune, a South Dakota senator and second-ranking Republican, also missed the ballot after feeling ill. 

While the Senate took precautions Wednesday such as keeping votes open longer to abate crowding, senators still huddled in groups and chatted.

Speaking before the chamber passed the bill, McConnell articulate the Senate would not return until April 20. However, he said lawmakers would be “nimble” as the evolving emergency could force further action to boost the American economy or health care system. 

“If circumstances require the Senate to render for a vote sooner than April the 20th we will provide at least 24 hours of notice,” he said. 

Before cursory the bill, the Senate first rejected an amendment proposed by Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., to cap unemployment insurance at a recipient’s previous wages. The tally adds $600 per week to the benefits a recipient would normally get for up to four months. Sasse’s amendment failed in a 48-48 elector. 

The senator and three of his GOP colleagues threatened to delay passage of the legislation if they could not get a vote on an amendment. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., then supported he could hold up the bill’s approval if they did not back down from their opposition. 

While the snag made fears the bill would not pass, hitting U.S. stock indexes just before markets closed Wednesday, it fundamentally did not stop the Senate from approving the proposal. 

In a letter to colleagues Wednesday night, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer indicated the chamber will convene at 9 a.m. Friday to consider the legislation. The Maryland Democrat said that “in order to protect the sanctuary” of representatives and staff and “prevent the further spread of COVID-19,” he and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., calculate the House will take a voice vote. 

“Members who want to come to the House Floor to debate this paper money will be able to do so.  In addition, we are working to ensure that those who are unable to return to Washington may express their prospects on this legislation remotely,” he wrote. 

House approval would send the package to President Donald Trump’s desk. He has expressed mainstay for the agreement his Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin negotiated with Senate Republicans and Democrats. 

During a White Brothel coronavirus briefing Wednesday, Trump said he would sign the legislation “immediately” after Congress passes it. 

Lawmakers already approved two dressing-downs of legislation to respond to the crisis. It approved $8.3 billion in emergency medical funding and a $100 billion plan to heighten paid leave and unemployment insurance — both of which were dwarfed by the scope of the third package. 

As the pandemic rips from head to foot the country, senators signaled they may need to provide more relief. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, whose household state of New York has been more ravaged by the outbreak than any other part of the country, told reporters the “odds are prodigal” Congress will need to pass more aid measures.

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