Commentary

Senate, White House Say They Have Done Deal For $2 Trillion Stimulus

After five days of round-the-clock negotiation, Congressional leaders and the Trump Administration reached agreement early this morning on a $2 billion stimulus package that will provide relief to individuals and small businesses along with corporations and localities impacted by COVID-19.

“‘We have a deal,’ said Eric Ueland, the White House legislative affairs director, just before 1 a.m., adding that the text of the bill still needed to be completed. ‘We have either, clear, explicit legislative text reflecting all parties or we know exactly where we’re going to land on legislative text as we continue to finish,’” Lauren Gambino writes  for The Guardian.

“The legislation, unprecedented in its size and scope, aims to flood the economy with capital by sending $1,200 checks to many Americans, creating a $367 billion loan program for small businesses and setting up a $500 billion fund for industries, cities and states,” Erica Werner, Mike DeBonis, Paul Kane and Jeff Stein report  for The Washington Post.

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“Those payments would be in addition to a broad expansion in unemployment benefits, which would be extended to nontraditional employees, including gig workers and freelancers, according to a Democratic aide familiar with the negotiations. The agreement is also set to increase current unemployment assistance by $600 a week for four months,” Joshua Jamerson and Andrew Duehren write  for The Wall Street Journal.

“The deal hammered out by negotiators provides $30 billion in emergency education funding, $25 billion in emergency transit funding and creates an employee retention tax credit to incentivize businesses to keep workers on payroll during the crisis. It will also provide $25 billion in direct financial aid to struggling airlines and $4 billion for air cargo carriers, two industries that have taken a big hit in the economic downturn,” Alexander Bolton and Jordain Carney write  for The Hill

[Democratic Leader Chuck] Schumer (D-N.Y.) “added a provision to ban businesses owned by the president, vice president, members of Congress and the heads of federal executive departments from receiving loans or investments through the corporate liquidity program. The prohibition also applies to their children, spouses and in-laws,” they add.

“At last, we have a deal. After days of intense discussions, the Senate has reached a bipartisan agreement on a historic relief package for this pandemic. We’re going to pass this legislation later today,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R.-Ken.) tweeted  at 1:51 a.m. ET. 

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi “suggested on Tuesday that she is hoping to avoid bringing the full House back to Washington to vote on the package, seeking to pass it through unanimous consent instead. But any individual member can block such a move, creating uncertainty over whether that will be feasible,” write  CNN’s Manu Raju, Ted Barrett, Clare Foran and Kristin Wilson.

“Pelosi is also open to allowing the bill to pass by a voice vote, which would allow the presiding officer to rule in favor of the side that has the most voice votes. However, members could request a recorded, roll call vote, which would require the full House to return to pass the bill, something lawmakers are eager to avoid amid the coronavirus outbreak,” they add.

“Schumer kept in close touch throughout the process with Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who introduced her own $2.5 trillion bill Monday,” The Hill's Bolton and Carney report.

“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,” the WSJ’s Jamerson and Duehren report.

“The passage of the bill buoyed financial markets in Asia and Europe, and the optimism looked likely to carry over to Wall Street, as trading in futures indicated a strong opening for stocks there,” The New York Timesreports in its “Live Updates” section this morning.

That follows a huge surge on Wall St. yesterday.

“The Dow rallied by over 11% to close up by over 2,100 points -- only a day after a sell-off virtually erased all of the gains made since President Donald Trump was elected -- and [had] its best day in nearly 90 years. The S&P 500 Index had its strongest session since 2008, while the Nasdaq turned in its best performance in 7 days,” Emily McCormick, Javier E. David and Nishant Mohan write  for Yahoo Finance.

“The sheer size and scope of the stimulus package would have been unthinkable only a couple of weeks ago. Its total cost is several hundred billions of dollars more than the entire annual federal budget, and administration officials said they hoped that its effect on a battered economy would be exponentially greater, generating as much as $4 trillion in economic activity,” the NYT story adds.

“It is not a moment of celebration but one of necessity. We fought to send much-needed resources to fight coronavirus and to put people and workers first. The agreement now reflects those priorities,” Schumer tweeted last night. 

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