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

The Senate passed a historic $2 trillion coronavirus relief package Wednesday night, as it tries to stem the destruction the pandemic has brought to American lives and wallets. The chamber approved the mammoth bill in a unanimous 96-0 vote after days of furious negotiations, partisan sniping and raised tempers on the Senate floor. The bill now heads to the House, which will push to pass it by voice vote Friday morning as most representatives are out of Washington.

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

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

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

House approval would send the package to President Donald Trump’s desk. He has expressed support for the agreement his Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin negotiated with Senate Republicans and Democrats. During a White House coronavirus briefing Wednesday, Trump said he would sign the legislation “immediately” after Congress passes it.

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

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

Senate passes $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus package, sending it to the House, CNBC, Mar 26

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