Both Republican and Democratic Senate leadership have signaled a vote could come tonight on the $2 trillion coronavirus economic relief bill, and this time, there’s bipartisan optimism it will pass.
“Today we can make all of the Washington drama fade away,” said Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on the Senate floor Tuesday. “If we act today, what Americans will remember and what history will record is that the Senate did the right thing.”
Negotiations went into late Monday night after the second attempt to pass the bill failed earlier that day.
"We are very close to reaching a deal. Very close,” claimed Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) on Tuesday.
The big break in the stalemate came when Republicans agreed to include two of the Democrats top priorities in the massive plan: a “Marshall Plan” for federal hospitals which would give them an additional $5 billion on top of the $75 billion already proposed by Republicans, and stricter oversight in the $500 billion in loans designated to corporations including designating an inspector general and oversight board to oversea the distributions.
“I don't think our Republican colleagues would want to give any administration a blank check to spend $500 billion to whoever they want, without any clear safeguards or process for accountability,” argued Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) on the Senate floor.
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The bill also calls for $1200 checks to be distributed to many Americans in certain income ranges, about $350 billion in loans for small businesses to help them stay open, and $50 billion in relief to the airline industry.
“The buzzer is sounding, the hour for bargaining as though this were business as usual, has expired,” McConnell warned on Tuesday.
In a tweet Tuesday morning, President Trump encouraged Congress to “approve the deal, without all of the nonsense, today. The longer it takes, the harder it will be to start up our economy. Our workers will be hurt!
Congress must approve the deal, without all of the nonsense, today. The longer it takes, the harder it will be to start up our economy. Our workers will be hurt!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 24, 2020
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has introduced a House economic stimulus plan that includes many non-starters for Republicans like a mandatory minimum wage increase for companies that receive aid and mandates for airlines to offset their carbon emissions by 2025. The House, however, is reportedly going to pass whatever bill the Senate passes and hopes to do so by unanimous consent, which would only require two lawmakers to be present on the House floor, to avoid calling the full House back to D.C.