$2 trillion rescue plan set to clear US House, go to Trump

$2 trillion rescue plan set to clear US House, go to Trump

Tourists take pictures near a sign informing about coronavirus safety measures at the Lincoln Memorial on March 27, 2020 in Washington, DC
Tourists take pictures near a sign informing about coronavirus safety measures at the Lincoln Memorial on March 27, 2020 in Washington, DC

WASHINGTON - The House of Representatives was poised Friday to pass a historic rescue package that injects $2 trillion into the pockets of struggling Americans and fortifies an economy so ravaged by coronavirus that it is sliding toward recession.

After clearing the Senate earlier this week, and as the United States became the new global epicenter of the pandemic with 86,000 confirmed cases of infection, Republicans and Democrats are expected to unite to greenlight the nation's largest-ever economic relief plan.

It then goes to President Donald Trump's desk. Trump has indicated he will quickly sign the measure into law, triggering millions of rebate checks of up to $3,400 for an average American family of four.

The bill will pump $100 billion into hospitals and health facilities in critical need of medical gear like personal protective equipment and ventilators, create a $500 billion loan reserve for large corporations including airlines, and provide $377 billion in grants to suffering small businesses.

It also dramatically expands unemployment assistance, aid that will cushion the blow for a staggering 3.3 million people who filed jobless claims in the week ending March 21.

"The American people need relief now," House Democrat Joe Neguse told colleagues. "Not tomorrow, not next week, not next month. Now."

House Republican Paul Mitchell hailed the measure as a "critical lifeline" for workers and small businesses devastated by what he called a health crisis "unlike any we have experienced in 100 years."

The vote is notable on multiple levels, including the implementation of social distancing rules that prevented too many lawmakers from gathering on the floor.

With the House in recess this week, leaders had wanted a quick voice vote requiring just a few members.

But Republican Thomas Massie, who opposes the expensive bill, has threatened to stall the measure, prompting hundreds of lawmakers to rush to Washington if needed for a roll call vote.

Trump savaged Massie on Twitter as a "third rate Grandstander" whose stunt was "dangerous & costly."

"Throw Massie out of Republican Party!" the president boomed, joining a chorus of opprobrium against the Kentucky congressman.

One congresswoman, Democrat Haley Stevens, wore pink latex gloves as she addressed the chamber, raising her voice and waving her hands dramatically as she urged Americans to support health care workers.

"To our doctors and nurses, I wear these latex gloves to tell every American, do not be afraid," she said.

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