The Senate unanimously approved the most expensive economic stimulus package in U.S. history Wednesday evening — $2 trillion in funding designed to mitigate economic distress as a result of the pandemic.
The measure is designed to provide economic relief to American workers and industries struggling financially as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. It includes $250 billion in direct aid to Americans — such as cash payments of $1,200 to workers making up to $75,000 — $350 billion in loans and grants for small businesses, $250 billion in unemployment insurance benefits and $500 billion in loans for distressed companies, according to a March 25 CNN report.
Responding hospitals that are depleted of financial resources are entitled to $130 billion, and $150 billion is designated to state and local governments low on funds after their response to the disease.
The bill would also prohibit top government officials, such as President Trump, his family and members of Congress, from gaining loans or investments from Treasury programs in the stimulus.
The package reached its 96-0 vote after days of negotiations. Until Wednesday morning, Senate Democrats had banded together to block the package over concerns that it did not protect union employees or the working class as well as it protected corporations, claiming big business would be provided too much funding without enough oversight and that it failed to provide adequate funding to hospitals and healthcare workers. They also requested tax credits for solar energy and wind energy and new emissions standards for airlines. Republicans retorted, claiming Democrats were taking the opportunity to fulfill their left-leaning agenda.
“I was very pleased that in several days the Congressional Democrats were able to turn upside down the bill that was presented at the beginning of the weekend. It was a triple down corporate bill — it is now a bubble up workers bill, and we’re very proud of that,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) said in a March 25 CNN interview. “The urgency is very clear the solutions are not everything we wanted but many of the provisions we had in our House bill are in the Senate bill and we know we’re going to need more for our states, for our cities, for hospitals, for healthcare providers, for our workers, for our families, for our economy.”
Gov. Cuomo, however, issued a March 25 statement rejecting the package, claiming it would be “terrible” for New York State because it wouldn’t provide the COVID-riddled state with adequate funding.
“This is despite the fact that New York State is incurring the greatest costs as we have the highest number of cases in the country,” Cuomo said. “New York State has 30 times the number of cases as Texas’s 1,031. The gross political manipulation is obvious ... Compounding this inequity is the fact that New York State contributes more to the federal government than any other state in the nation. It is just another case of politics over sound policy.”
The measure moves to the House, which will vote remotely Friday at 9 a.m. to avoid convening in person and potentially spreading the virus.