Lawmakers Think They Have Reached an Agreement on a Stimulus Package
The deal that was reached was in principle only as congressional officials will work throughout the early morning Wednesday to draft it. The highlights are that it will provide direct financial checks to many Americans, drastically expand unemployment insurance, offer hundreds in billions in loans to both small and large businesses, and provide health care providers with additional resources as the virus spreads. Mr. McConnell said the Senate would move to vote on the massive bill later on Wednesday. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) said Tuesday she hoped to quickly approve the eventual Senate agreement, though objections from lawmakers could slow the process in that chamber.
“This is a wartime level of investment into our nation,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) in the early hours of Wednesday after the two sides had reached a deal. “The men and women of the greatest country on Earth are going to defeat this coronavirus and reclaim our future. And the Senate is going to make sure they have the ammunition they need to do it.”
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that he had spoken to President Trump about the agreement and that Mr. Trump would “absolutely” sign it as it is written today. “He’s very pleased with this legislation, and the impact that this is going to have,” Mr. Mnuchin said.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) said the bill had been “improved substantially” since Democrats joined the negotiations. “To all Americans I say: Help is on the way, big help and quick help,” Mr. Schumer said.
Trump's interview saying he expected the lock down to end by Easter, calmed investors and rumors that a deal could be reached soon further boosted moral as the Dow Jones Industrial Average posted its largest single-day gain since 1933. Days of frantic negotiations on Capitol Hill between Senate Democrats and Republicans and the Trump administration produced an agreement less than a week after first Mr. McConnell introduced an opening offer.
While the final terms of the bill remained under wraps early Wednesday, leaks rumor one-time checks of $1,200, with $500 available to children (assistance capped above certain income levels). The package would expand unemployment benefits and would include gig workers and freelancers. The agreement is also set to increase current unemployment assistance by $600 a week for four months. The Senate is also poised to approve $350 billion in loans to small businesses in an effort to keep Americans on payrolls.
A major challenge in the negotiations was roughly $500 billion in corporate aid, much of which will go toward backstopping Federal Reserve loans.
Mr. Schumer wrote in a letter that the package will also invest $150 billion in the health care system and send $150 billion to state and local governments saddled with costs related to the virus. In the same letter, Mr. Schumer said the legislation would ban stock buybacks for companies that took a government loan that lasts the term of the government assistance plus 1 year. Democrats also secured a provision in the agreement that bans businesses controlled by Mr. Trump, the vice president, members of Congress and heads of executive departments from receiving loans or other funds from the stimulus bill. Children and spouses of those people are also banned.
Mrs. Pelosi has said that she wants to pass the bill by unanimous consent—meaning she doesn’t have to recall members back to Washington from their districts for a floor vote.
The $2 trillion package would be the 3rd infusion by a deeply divided Congress. Lawmakers also quickly passed an $8.3 billion bill funding vaccine development efforts, among other issues, and a bill expanding paid leave measures that was estimated to cost more than $100 billion.