Sat | Mar 28, 2020

Washington agrees on unrivalled $2-trillion virus rescue bill

Published:Thursday | March 26, 2020 | 12:24 AM
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky gives a thumbs up as he arrives on Capitol Hill in Washington yesterday.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky gives a thumbs up as he arrives on Capitol Hill in Washington yesterday.

WASHINGTON (AP):

The White House and Senate leaders yesterday announced agreement on an unparalleled $2-trillion emergency bill to rush aid to businesses, workers and a healthcare system slammed by the coronavirus pandemic.

It’s the largest economic rescue bill in history. The package is intended as a weeklong or months-long patch for an economy spiralling into recession or worse, and a nation facing a grim toll from an infection that has killed nearly 20,000 people worldwide.

Underscoring the effort’s sheer magnitude, the bill finances a response with a price tag that equals half the size of the entire $4-trillion annual federal budget.

“A fight has arrived on our shores,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. “We did not seek it, we did not want it, but now we’re going to win it.”

Differing views

“Big help, quick help, is on the way,” said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.

But not enough, said New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat whose state has seen more deaths from the pandemic than any other. “I’m telling you, these numbers don’t work.”

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden said the package “goes a long way”. He said it requires strong oversight to ensure the wealthy don’t benefit at the expense of workers, and proposed forgiving at least $10,000 of student loan debt as part of the federal response.