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The $2 trillion emergency aid bill unanimously passed by the Senate late on Wednesday night.

The unanimous vote, 96-0, is for an economic rescue package (the largest economic relief bill in US history) that would cushion businesses, workers, and health care systems from the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak. 

The package will have an affect on households and workers, business and banking, and personal finance and taxes, as follows:

• $250 billion to make unemployment insurance available to more categories of workers and to extend the duration of benefits to 39 weeks from the 26 weeks typical in most states. It would also provide an extra $600 a week for four months.

• $301 billion in direct payments to households.

• $349 billion in loans to small businesses, with the amount spent on payroll, rent or utilities converting into grants that don’t have to be repaid.

• $500 billion for loans, loan guarantees or other aid to businesses, states and municipalities—including the possibility that the government will take direct equity stakes in distressed companies. Of the total, $29 billion is set aside for cargo and passenger airlines, and $17 billion is for businesses deemed critical to national security, such as Boeing. The remaining $454 billion would go to backstop losses in lending facilities established or expanded by the Federal Reserve.

• $32 billion in grants to cover wages at passenger air carriers, cargo air carriers and contractors.

• $150 billion in direct aid to states, distributed according to population size. A municipality could apply to receive aid directly, reducing the amount available to the rest of the state.

• $221 billion in a variety of tax benefits for businesses, including allowing businesses to defer payroll taxes, which finance Medicare and Social Security, for the rest of the year. It would also temporarily allow businesses to claim deductions using today’s losses against past profits to claim quick refunds for cash infusions.

• $340 billion in supplemental spending, which includes $117 billion for hospitals and veterans’ care. It also includes $25 billion mostly for public transit to make up for revenue lost because of dwindling ridership.

After the Senate unanimously passed the bill, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) was heard saying: 

“I’m proud to announce tonight not a single senator voted against this two trillion dollar rescue bill to save American individuals, small businesses, larger businesses, and to provide considerable funding for the healthcare workers and the scientists and the doctors and others who are trying to solve this pandemic.

Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) said, “I always had faith we would because America and the American people demanded it.”

“And so when we passed this bill, on the floor of the Senate, we didn’t hug each other, we just waved from a distance.”

After the bill passed, President Trump tweeted: “96-0 in the United States Senate. Congratulations AMERICA!” 

The bill is now headed for a vote at the House of Representatives on Friday. Trump told reporters on Wednesday that as soon as the bill lands on his desk, he would quickly sign it into law.   





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