The US Senate unanimously passed the nation's largest-ever rescue package late Wednesday, a $2 trillion lifeline to suffering Americans, critically depleted hospitals and an economy ravaged by a rapidly spreading coronavirus crisis.
The upper chamber passed the bill in a 96-0 vote, well above the 60-vote threshold.
The package needs to be approved by the House of Representatives, before being sent to President Donald Trump's for his signature.
In addition, borrowers have to make a "good faith certification" that they will stay neutral in any union organizing effort over the term of the loan.The deal includes $17 billion in loans for companies deemed critical to national security, which is meant to assist Boeing Co. though the legislation doesn't mention the company by name.For airlines, there will be $25 billion in grants, with conditions, and $25 billion in loans to passenger carriers, $3 billion to airline contractors providing ground staff such as caterers, while cargo haulers would see $4 billion in grants.Small businesses would receive more than $350 billion in aid, but they must agree to retain workers.
The measure cleared the Senate 96-0 after days of tumultuous, sometimes bitter negotiations and debate, as the USA death toll for the pandemic soared past 1,000, with 68,000 confirmed infections.
More than 280 New Yorkers have died from the virus, a death toll more than double that of any other state.
Democrats also secured a provision in the agreement that bans businesses controlled by President Trump, the vice president, members of Congress and heads of executive departments from receiving loans or other funds from the stimulus bill.
The House will meet on Friday morning to consider the package, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer says. If even a single representative objects, the situation gets tricky, as a regular roll-call vote would be required, but the House is now out of session.
But in a letter to the Democratic caucus, Minority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said he remained "committed to giving House Members 24 hours' notice before the House acts". The goal is to blunt the blow to the economy "so that we have a foundation from which to recover", she said.
The president said in a Fox News special aired from the White House that he thought life might get back to normal by Easter.
$350 billion in the form of loans for small businesses impacted by the pandemic; some of those loans could be forgiven.
The sprawling measure is the third coronavirus response bill produced by Congress and by far the largest.
A $2 trillion aid package to ease the economic damage wrought by COVID-19 is nearing the finish line in Washington, D.C.
Diane Swonk, chief economist at Grant Thornton, a major accounting firm, wrote in a blog post Wednesday that the bill is created to temporarily help individuals, firms of all sizes, hospitals and states "traverse COVID-tainted waters". The legislation covers an array of programs, including direct payments to Americans, an aggressive expansion of unemployment insurance, billions of dollars in aid to large and small businesses and a new wave of significant funding for the health care industry. To protect members from the risks of exposure, the House will hold a voice vote on the bill.
"I believe it's absolutely the responsibility of the Legislature to make sure we have statutes in place for scope of practice and we are doing everything we can to make sure people have access to health care providers and they have it with the right ones", Friedman said.