Congress OKs $2T stimulus in historic coronavirus response
The House of Representatives on Friday overwhelmingly approved a more than $2 trillion package to combat the coronavirus pandemic and send economic relief to workers and businesses squeezed by restrictions meant to stop the outbreak’s spread.
The legislation, approved by voice vote despite 11th-hour drama arising from a GOP lawmaker’s objections, amounts to the costliest stimulus plan in U.S. history. It includes checks for most Americans, boosted unemployment aid, help for small business as well as a massive loan fund for corporations – at a time when unemployment is surging at a record pace, a consequence of businesses closing in compliance with social distancing guidelines.
The bill, already approved by the Senate, now goes to President Trump’s desk.
“This bill is not only a rescue package, it is a commitment… that your government and the people whom you’ve elected to serve will do everything we can to limit the harm and hardship you face, both now and the foreseeable future,” House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said prior to the vote.
The approval, while widely anticipated, followed a stretch of uncertainty over whether one congressman — concerned about the stunning cost of the package — might be able to stall the vote.
Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., had furiously objected to a simple voice vote that would have required only a minimal number of lawmakers to travel. Massie, as part of his push, wanted to ensure there is a quorum, which would require half of the members to show up on Capitol Hill.
So as President Trump and others accused him of grandstanding, hundreds of lawmakers were summoned to Washington D.C. Thursday night and Friday morning from coronavirus-ravaged communities in New York, California and elsewhere. This, despite strict guidelines from the Capitol physician advising lawmakers not to congregate at the Capitol and stay in their offices until needed to avoid the spread of the virus that has already infected several lawmakers.
While Massie was able to ensure many lawmakers showed up for the vote, he was not, in the end, able to force a roll-call.