White House Legislative Affairs Director Eric Ueland leaves Chuck Schumer's office on March 25. Photo: Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images
The Senate passed the largest rescue package in modern history on Wednesday to alleviate economic pressure caused by the novel coronavirus, which has killed more than 1,000 people in the U.S. and over 21,000 people globally.
Why it matters: The roughly $2 trillion COVID-19 relief package includes thousands of dollars in direct payments to most Americans — millions of whom face unemployment related to the spread of COVID-19 — as well as a $500 billion loan fund for large corporations and a $367 billion loan program for small businesses.
- The deal injects $100 billion into hospitals and the nation's health system, as America's hospitals, doctors and nurses say there will not be enough medical supplies to treat patients with the virus unless President Trump invokes the Defense Production Act.
- Americans will get a one-time direct deposit of up to $1,200 through the package, and married couples will get $2,400, plus an additional $500 per child.
What's next: House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said in a statement the House plans to vote on the package via a voice vote on Friday. This gives members who wish to debate the bill in person the option to do so, while enabling those unable to return to Washington, D.C., during the outbreak an option to stay in their home districts.
- President Trump said on Wednesday that he would sign the package "immediately."
The big picture: Trump tweeted after the bill passed unanimously, "96-0 in the United States Senate. Congratulations AMERICA!" It took all day for senators to get to that point, with Republicans and Democrats quarreling over an amendment related to unemployment insurance that would grant an extra $600 per week in unemployment benefits to low-wage workers who lose their jobs.
What they're saying: Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said, "The gears of the American economy have ground to a halt. Our country has faced challenges before, but rarely so many at the same time. ... Representatives from both sides of the aisle ... have forged the bipartisan agreement in highly partisan times. ... And I'm damn proud of the work we did over the past few days."
- Finance Committee Ranking Member Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.): "I've heard my colleagues and their strenuous objections to that amount. The reason it is $600, Mr. President, is because Labor Secretary Scalia ... after meeting with negotiators, left us with no other way to get benefits to workers quickly. Secretary Scalia said that states had no other way to get the benefits to workers in time."
- Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.): "Here's what's wrong with the bill as it's currently drafted. It threatens to cripple the supply chain for many — from many different categories of workers. Some in the health sector, food prep and delivery. This bill as drafted creates a perverse incentive for men and women who are sidelined to then not leave the sidelines and come back to work."
- Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT): "Some of our Republican friends still have not given up on the need to punish the poor and working people ... and now, horror of horrors, for four months, workers might be earning a few bucks more than they otherwise would."
- Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.): "I will concede your point. Some workers, some may end up coming up ahead because of this calculation, of $600 a week. They may come out ahead. I'm not going to stand here and say I feel badly about that. I don't feel badly about that at all. ... That is a real possibility, and it may happen. I will support that just as I supported the Trump administration's cash payment to that same family."
- Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.): "Now what do you do when you make $23 an hour being on unemployment? How do you keep that waitress or bartender at $15 or $17? You've made it a nightmare for small businesses. They're being pitted against their own employees."
Editor's note: This article has been updated with Trump's and Hoyer's comments. Alayna Treene contributed reporting.