Special Report

Shutdown: The Coronavirus

Senate approves coronavirus stimulus bill

The U.S. Senate voted on a roughly $2 trillion stimulus package on Wednesday just before midnight.

The U.S. Senate unanimously passed late last night a $2 trillion economic stimulus package in an attempt to save the country’s economy amid the coronavirus pandemic, after days of tense negotiations among Democrats, Republicans and White House aides. 

The bipartisan bill- the largest rescue package in U.S. history- aims to provide financial relief to companies and Americans losing income, and give critical aid to hospitals and healthcare workers on the front lines of the crisis, as the pandemic hurts the world economy.  

“At last, we have a deal,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on the Senate floor around 1 a.m. today  after legislators struck a deal with the White House. “After days of intense discussions, the Senate has reached a bipartisan agreement on a historic relief package for this pandemic.”

Passed just before midnight, the bill would provide direct payments of $1,200 to many Americans, establish a $350 billion loan program for small businesses and allow the Treasury Department to extend $500 billion in loans and guarantees to corporations that have been hit hard by the outbreak. 

The Senate had reached a deal with Trump’s administration early yesterday, but voting was delayed until late last night because Republican senators. Tim Scott, Rick Scott, Ben Sasse and Lindsey Graham argued a “drafting error” could lead to layoffs and incentivize people not to work. An amendment from Sen. Sasse to modify unemployment benefits failed to pass. 

Among other provisions, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act would prohibit taxpayer-backed loans from going to businesses owned by President Donald Trump, members of his administration or members of Congress. 

The proposed stimulus package offers unemployed workers $600 a week for four months, includes $32 billion in grants for the airlines, allocates up to $130 billion for hospitals and assigns $150 billion for states and localities battling the coronavirus outbreak. 

New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said yeseterday that the Senate bill would be “terrible” for his state’s response to the coronavirus crisis, arguing it is a “drop in the bucket” of what New Yorkers need. He said the legislation would provide $3.8 billion in aid to New York, compared to a plan unveiled by the House earlier this week that would allocate $17 billion for the state that has confirmed more than 30,000 cases of the virus. 

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, at a news briefing yesterday afternoon, called the bill “just immoral” and said the city would only get $1 billion, despite being the epicenter of the outbreak in the U.S. 

 The U.S. reported 54,453 cases of Covid-19, the disease caused by the novel virus, with 737 deaths, as of Wednesday afternoon, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The World Health Organization on Monday warned that the U.S. could become the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic. 

The Senate struck down two previous stimulus bills, as Democrats pushed to make several changes to the legislation. Democratic senators fought, for example, for worker protections and oversight of the $500 billion fund to bail out businesses. They also insisted on prohibiting funds from going to Trump’s businesses. 

“It was a long hard road,” said Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer last night on the Senate floor. “Neither side can be completely happy with the final product. But it will be worth it.”

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said during a White House press briefing that the stimulus package could keep the U.S. economy afloat for three months and mentioned the government expects to issue direct payments to citizens within three weeks of the bill being signed into law. 

On Tuesday, Trump pressured legislators to pass the bill. “Congress must approve the deal, without all of the nonsense, today,” tweeted Trump. “The longer it takes, the harder it will be to start up our economy. Our workers will be hurt!”

During a Fox News town hall, Trump said on Tuesday he wants the country “opened up” by Easter, April 12, despite public health experts’ warnings on the dangers of the outbreak. He said, if some sectors of the economy are not restored, the country might go into “a massive recession or depression.” 

The bill now needs the House’s approval before it reaches Trump’s desk. The president has said he will sign the bill if it is passed by Congress.

 


Other Stories in Special Report: Shutdown: The Coronavirus

Pandemic fatigue 101

Chuyan Jiang February 28, 2021

Yankee Stadium becomes COVID-19 vaccine site for Bronx residents only

Michelle Diaz February 24, 2021

The queer community rallies behind their sacred spaces closed because of COVID-19

Inga Parkel February 23, 2021

Keeping the faith in COVID-19

Courtney Guarino February 3, 2021

Little Italy’s restaurants need indoor dining to survive pandemic

Michelle Diaz February 2, 2021

Stray pets find homes and love during pandemic

Inga Parkel February 1, 2021

No Actors, But the Show Goes On

James Pothen December 5, 2020

New York City, a place of refuge 

Edith Rousselot December 4, 2020

Commuting in a pandemic world

Michelle Diaz December 3, 2020

Battling food insecurities during a pandemic

Courtney Guarino December 3, 2020

Adaptation

Justin McGown December 3, 2020

Honk!: Cars earn a special spot in 2020

Luana Harumi December 3, 2020

Working out looks very different during a pandemic

Chuyan Jiang December 2, 2020

One kitchen’s transformation in the age of isolation

Isabel Beer December 2, 2020

Nursing homes are filled with sadness and loss during pandemic shut down

Inga Parkel December 1, 2020

The show goes on

Norah Hogan December 1, 2020

Loyal members help keep independent cinemas afloat

Courtney Guarino December 1, 2020

Musicians deal with the reality of no live shows as covid takes center stage

Paola Michelle Ortiz December 1, 2020

 Black Friday’s Aftermath

Sughnen Yongo-Okochi November 30, 2020

The Spirit of Little Haiti

Savannah Daniels October 14, 2020

Small business owners hope for future relief

Courtney Guarino October 2, 2020

Brooklyn Book Festival held virtually

Chuyan Jiang September 28, 2020

NYC Restaurant owners worry about maintaining business during winter 

Isabel Beer September 27, 2020

The pandemic is causing mental health struggles for many Latinos

Paola Michelle Ortiz September 24, 2020

Politically divided family can agree on one thing, rallies are bad during a pandemic

Michelle Diaz September 23, 2020

New Yorkers are vulnerable to mental issues due to pandemic

Sughnen Yongo-Okochi September 23, 2020

Healthcare professionals struggle with Trump’s decisions during pandemic

Tori Luecking September 23, 2020

Some Americans Say “Not So Fast” on Operation Warp Speed

James Pothen September 23, 2020

Trump voters unfazed by morality of Trump’s Covid response

Norah Hogan September 22, 2020

Trump rallies continue, despite the rising Covid-19 death toll

Isabel Beer September 22, 2020

Latinos weigh in on President Trump’s management of the pandemic

Paola Michelle Ortiz September 21, 2020

Fast track vaccine causes fear

Kaity Assaf September 21, 2020

It’s business as usual at McSorley’s Old Ale House

Tori Luecking September 20, 2020

Trump defiance to hold indoor rallies amidst COVID-19 sparks polarized responses 

Courtney Guarino September 20, 2020

NYC Cafes and restaurants try and survive the pandemic

Isabel Beer September 19, 2020

A typical afternoon at Shade Bar NYC

Kaity Assaf September 19, 2020

West Village staple, Caffe Reggio, remains open for outdoor dining in the wake of coronavirus restrictions 

Norah Hogan September 19, 2020

Fort Greene’s Dino adds outdoor dining to keep business flowing

Courtney Guarino September 19, 2020

COVID-19 hampers Fashion Week for photographers

Daniel Karel September 18, 2020

On the heels of revelation that Trump downplayed the covid threat, voters question rallies resuming

Sughnen Yongo-Okochi September 16, 2020

Overburdened mothers in Pakistan are relieved as schools reopens

Quratulain Tejani September 13, 2020

Students from different parts of the world struggle as schools reopen during a pandemic

Chuyan Jiang September 12, 2020

Special needs students face learning obstacles during Covid-19

Courtney Guarino September 12, 2020

Back to school – COVID-19 style 

Isabel Beer September 12, 2020

The new normal for school life is abnormal in Michigan

Sughnen Yongo-Okochi September 11, 2020

California School District Parents and Teachers Clash About Return to School

Norah Hogan September 10, 2020

A tribute to the mask pioneers

Bohao Liu July 11, 2020

Air pollution in China rebounds to pre-COVID level

Hannah Zhang July 11, 2020

ICE takes aim at international students

Maria Abreu July 10, 2020

Chinese students trapped by new ICE policy

Zishu Sherry Qin July 10, 2020