The United States Senate has voted unanimously to approve a record-shattering $2.2 trillion emergency relief package to battle the unprecedented economic shock of the coronavirus pandemic. The House of Representatives is set to vote on the legislation on Friday, and President Trump has promised to sign it as soon as it reaches his desk.
The bailout package would massively expand unemployment benefits, providing laid-off workers up to 100% of their salary and health insurance benefits for four months. Freelancers and gig economy workers would be eligible for unemployment benefits for the first time ever. Over $300 billion would go toward direct cash payments to most Americans, with one-time checks of $1,200 for adults and $500 per child. States and municipalities would receive $150 billion in direct aid; companies would receive $221 billion in tax benefits; $117 billion would fund hospitals and veterans’ healthcare; and a half-trillion-dollar fund would provide loans and loan guarantees for corporations.
Vermont senator and presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, who successfully fought to strengthen the bill’s assistance to laid-off workers, voted “yes” even as he warned about the bill’s corporate bailout fund.
Sen. Bernie Sanders: “We do not need, at this moment in history, to provide a massive amount of corporate welfare to large profitable corporations. I think as many of you are aware, you have industries like the airlines industry, among others, that have provided for stock buybacks, billions and billions of dollars for stock buybacks. They spent all their cash rewarding themselves and their stockholders. And lo and behold, today they need a major bailout.”