Sen. Chuck Schumer said the $2 trillion COVID-19 response bill will likely pass on Wednesday afternoon, providing families and businesses an economic boost and hospitals more equipment as the nation grapples with a pandemic that’s shuttered much of American life and killed nearly 20,000 worldwide.
“To the American people, we say big help, quick help is on the way,” Schumer said Wednesday morning in an interview on CNN, describing the new coronavirus as an “unprecedented health crisis.”
Americans who earn up to $75,000 will receive $1,200 checks, with Schumer citing President Donald Trump’s target date of April 6. Married couples earning up to $150,000 will receive $2,400; for each child, families will receive $500.
The New York senator said the legislation, the largest economic stimulus bill in U.S. history, provides $130 billion to get hospitals, nursing homes and community health centers more equipment, including ventilators and personal protective equipment; offers extended unemployment benefits so many workers can receive full pay and provides $367 billion for small businesses to keep making payroll while workers stay home; gives $150 billion to state and local governments struggling to combat the virus; and gives Congress stronger oversight over how $500 billion is dished out to large corporations impacted by the economic downturn.
Schumer said he worked with Sen. Elizabeth Warren to help guarantee transparency on contracts between the U.S. Treasury Department and any corporation. For any contract signed between companies and the federal government, Congress will get “full details of the loan document” within seven days, and the public will get full details within two weeks, Schumer said.
Neither Trump’s companies, nor any company in which a major government figure or their families have majority control, can receive grants or loans through the package, Schumer added.
“Those of us who write the laws shouldn’t benefit from the laws,” he said.
Schumer said the bill showed lawmakers had “risen to the occasion.”
“It is a good bill,” he said. “Does it have everything we need? No. Are some things in there I would rather not be? Of course. But this is the art of compromise.”
The agreement, announced by White House and Senate leaders of both parties overnight, followed days of tense negotiations.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has said Trump would “absolutely, absolutely, absolutely” sign the bill once passed by Congress, The Washington Post reported.
Whether the historic package is enough to get Americans and businesses through the brunt of the outbreak remains to be seen, Schumer said.
“We don’t know how long it’s going to last,” Schumer said, noting more assistance from Congress may be required in the coming months. “We should be willing able to come back in a bipartisan way if we have to.”
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