Washington, 26 March 2020 (dpa/MIA) – The United States Senate on Wednesday unanimously passed an unprecedented stimulus bill to cushion the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic, as deaths in the country topped 1,000.
The legislation – estimated at 2 trillion dollars – is a sweeping economic plan meant to stabilize households and businesses around the country as worries grow over a deepening economic recession that could reverberate around the globe.
The package will include direct 1,200 dollar payments to most adults, with an additional 500 dollars per child, in a bid to pump money back into the economy.
Another roughly 350 billion dollars will be available in loans for small businesses, which will be forgiven by the government if the money is used to keep employees on the payroll.
Unemployment insurance will be boosted, allowing most people who have lost their jobs to maintain their full salaries for four months. Some 150 billion dollars will go to the health care system.
The package will be coupled with up to 4 trillion dollars in lending from the Federal Reserve, according to White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow.
“It will inject trillions of dollars of cash the economy as fast as possible to help American workers, families, small businesses and industries make it through this disruption,” Senate leader Mitch McConnell said Wednesday, after days of intense negotiations between lawmakers and the White House.
“This is a war-time level of investment into our nation,” the Republican added.
The package comes as the death toll on Wednesday topped 1,000, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University, as officials throughout the country say the outbreak is expected to worsen.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo blasted the stimulus package earlier on Wednesday as “terrible for the state,” the current epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak in the country.
“We have 15 times the problem of the next state,” Andrew Cuomo told a news conference as New York’s number of confirmed coronavirus cases passed 30,800, which is over half the US total.
Cuomo said the bill would give New York 3.8 billion dollars, an amount he called a “drop in the bucket.”
He said the state needs up to 15 billion dollars to combat the crisis, which has already cost New York 1 billion dollars.
California Governor Gavin Newsom, who oversees 40 million residents, said his state will get around 10 billion dollars, adding that funds are a good first step but more will be needed.
He added that the state’s unemployment claims have skyrocketed past 1 million since March 13, as state-wide shutdown measures forced non-essential bushinesses to close.
Wall Street rallied for a second straight day on Wednesday in a signal that the economic stimulus plan may quell the volatile financial markets.
However markets may dip on Thursday as the Department of Labor releases weekly unemployment claim statistics, which may surge to historic levels.
With the rate of new coronavirus infections in New York doubling about every three days, the state is increasingly desperate for resources, especially ventilators, to treat the influx of coronavirus patients.
Cuomo said he spoke to Trump about a “rolling deployment” of resources around the country, starting with New York.
“We need resources from the entire country right now because our apex is first and the numbers are highest,” he said, adding that “as soon as we get past our critical moment, we will redeploy that equipment and personnel to the next hotspot.”
Cuomo’s comments came a day after a top White House official called on New Yorkers who have recently left the city to self-quarantine for two weeks to prevent the virus from spreading.
There are over 65,000 confirmed coronavirus cases in the US, and over 920 deaths, according to John Hopkins University data.