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Wednesday, 25 March 2020 - 16:56
White House and Senate leaders agree on historic US$2 Trillion coronavirus relief bill for US

The much talked about stimulus package in the US has been finalised, with the White House and Senate leaders coming to an agreement on early Wednesday morning over the $2-trillion package to provide a major thrust to the economy struggling in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.

This marks the end of days of marathon negotiations that has produced one of the most expensive and far-reaching measures in the history of US.

The deal came hours after President Trump's top economic adviser said an unprecedented $6 trillion stimulus plan was imminent, including $4 trillion in liquidity from the Federal Reserve and $2 trillion in new finance from Congress as reported in the international media.

However, support in the House of Representatives remained uncertain as one member openly criticized the plan. The unprecedented economic rescue package would give direct payments to most Americans

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell formally announced the agreement on the Senate floor, saying, that at last, they have a deal.

He further stated that after days of intense discussions, the Senate has reached a bipartisan agreement on a historic relief package in the face of this pandemic."

The Senate majority leader described it as "a war-time level of investment for our nation," saying that the Senate would move to pass it later in the day on Wednesday.

The Senate was to re-convene at noon while an exact time has not yet been set for the vote according to CNN.

The full details have yet to be released. But the elements of the proposal which have come into sharper focus has been the US $250 billion set aside for direct payments to individuals and families, US $350 billion in small business loans, US$ 250 billion in unemployment insurance benefits and US$ 500 billion in loans for distressed companies.

The package, if it passes Congress, would be the most significant legislative action taken to address the rapidly intensifying coronavirus crisis, the economy that is coming towards a grinding halt.

The stimulus bill also has a provision that would block President Donald Trump and his family, as well as other top government officials and members of Congress, from getting loans or investments from Treasury programs in the stimulus, according to Minority Leader Chuck Schumer's office.

The plan will deliver a massive infusion of financial aid into a struggling economy hard hit by job loss, with provisions to help impacted American workers and families as well as small businesses and major industries including airlines.

According to international reports, individuals who earn $75,000 in adjusted gross income or less would get direct payments of $1,200 each, with married couples earning up to $150,000 receiving $2,400, and an additional $500 per each child.

The payment would scale down by income, phasing out entirely at $99,000 for singles and $198,000 for couples without children.

Negotiators also discussed providing four months of unemployment benefits, extending to self-employed workers.

Also, the bill would ensure the Small Business Administration could serve as a guarantor for loans of up to $10 billion for small businesses to ensure they can maintain their payrolls and pay off their debts.

The bill is also supposed to provide a major amount of funding for hard-hit hospitals close to US $130 billion, as well as $150 billion for state and local governments that are in the red due to their response to combat coronavirus.

In the meantime, since some members are quarantined there are thoughts that the House could approve the package by voice vote as opposed to holding a recorded roll call vote.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was also open to allowing the bill to pass by a voice vote, which would allow the presiding officer to rule in favour of the side that has the most voice votes.
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