The U.S. House of Representatives on Friday approved a landmark $ 2 trillion package that seeks to prevent the world’s largest economy from falling into a long-lasting recession from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
When the United States became the global epicenter of the pandemic with 92,000 confirmed infections, Republicans and Democrats gave the green light to the largest economic aid plan in the country’s history, already approved by the Senate this week.
To take effect, the initiative now requires the signature of President Donald Trump, who promised that he will enact it quickly.
“Our nation is facing an economic and health emergency of historic proportions due to the coronavirus pandemic, the worst in more than 100 years,” said Speaker of the House of Representatives and Democratic Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi shortly before the body passed the measure by acclamation.
The text, adopted by the unanimous vote of all senators (96-0) on Wednesday night, includes provisions to serve the sectors most affected by the health crisis.
He plans to send a check for $ 1,200 to many low-income Americans, nearly $ 400 billion in assistance to small businesses and $ 500 billion in assistance to large businesses, which will be subject to oversight by a comptroller general.
In addition, it awards $ 100 billion for hospitals and $ 30 billion to finance research on vaccines and treatments for COVID-19.
It also dramatically expands unemployment assistance, aid that will cushion the blow for the impressive 3.3 million people who filed for unemployment benefits in the week ended March 21.
“We are laying the foundation for a rapid economic recovery,” said House Republican Rep. Kevin McCarthy, after several hailed the move as a “crucial lifesaver” for workers and small businesses.
– Vote for history –
Friday’s vote in the lower house stood out in several ways.
To avoid contagions, distancing rules were implemented among legislators, which meant that many should sit in the galleries for the public due to the lack of space in the room.
With Congress in recess this week, Pelosi was advocating a speedy vote that would have required only a few members present.
But Republican Thomas Massie, who opposed the expensive law, threatened to delay adoption of the measure, prompting hundreds of lawmakers to rush back to Washington in case a roll-call vote was required.
Finally, the House eluded Massie’s move and passed the bill by acclamation, drawing widespread applause.
Trump attacked Massie on Twitter as “third-rate”. “Kick Massie out of the Republican Party!” Thundered the president, joining a chorus of disgrace against the Kentucky congressman.
A congresswoman, Democrat Haley Stevens, was wearing pink latex gloves during the debate, in which she urged Americans to support health workers, on the front lines of this pandemic that started in December in China.
Pelosi said the gigantic aid plan, Congress’ third initiative to help the country deal with the pandemic, will not be the last move to assist devastated communities.
“We must move forward on a fourth bill to address continuing needs,” he said, noting that state and local governments will need “much more” funding to address the crisis.