| Washington Examiner | by Susan Ferrechio
The Senate reached a bipartisan agreement on a $2 trillion coronavirus economic relief package that is headed for a vote when the chamber convenes at noon.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced the deal around 1:30 a.m. in a floor speech early Wednesday that followed hours of closed-door talks with Democrats and Trump administration officials.
“At last, we have a deal,” the Kentucky Republican said.
“After days of intense discussions, the Senate has reached a bipartisan agreement on an historic relief package for this pandemic," he continued. "It will rush new resources into the front lines of our nation's healthcare fight, and it will inject trillions of dollars of cash into the economy as fast as possible to help the American workers, families, small businesses, and industries make it through this disruption and emerge on the other side ready to soar.” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer touted the gains his party achieved by holding out on the agreement for days. “Our unity gave us important strength and leverage in negotiations,” the New York Democrat said.
The measure will provide $1,200 in direct cash payments to individuals and an average of $3,000 for families. It expands unemployment insurance, raising the payment by $600 and providing coverage for four months. The measure provides $350 billion in aid to small businesses through forgivable loans and $500 billion in loans to big industries, including the airlines, which have seen business collapse since the economic slowdown caused by the coronavirus.
The Senate will vote “later today” on the measure, McConnell said. The House is hoping to voice-vote the bill, but that requires every lawmaker to agree to skip a roll call vote and debate.
Democrats held out for a number of changes, including worker protections and regulations for the big companies that receive federal aid. The changes include removing a provision that would have allowed the Treasury Department to conceal which industries received loans for a certain time period. Democrats also won a provision requiring oversight of the loan program with a board and inspector general.
“We need transparency,” Schumer said. “Every loan document will be public and made available to Congress very quickly, so we can see where the money is going, what the terms are, and if it's fair to the American people. And an oversight board, as well as an IG, to make sure things are done on the level.” READ MORE