UPDATE: President Donald Trump just signed the massive aid package late Friday afternoon, writing in a tweet:
Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump
“I just signed the CARES Act, the single biggest economic relief package in American History – twice as large as any relief bill ever enacted. At $2.2 Trillion Dollars, this bill will deliver urgently-needed relief for our nation’s families, workers, and businesses.” #CARESAct
WASHINGTON — A $2 trillion bill to aid workers, health care providers and businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic is poised to become law following its passage in the U.S. House on Friday.
Many House members reconvened in Washington to approve the 880-page measure, which stands to be the largest economic aid package in U.S. history.
The chamber passed the measure using a “voice vote” typically used for uncontroversial measures, despite the objection of one House Republican, Rep. Thomas Massie of Kentucky, who attempted to force a recorded vote.
The massive bill — which would expand unemployment insurance, send direct checks to many Americans and offer financial aid to industries — cleared the U.S. Senate earlier this week. President Donald Trump said Wednesday that he would “sign it immediately.”
No one loves the final package, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle insisted as they spoke on the House floor ahead of Friday’s vote. Still, most of them were willing to stomach provisions they disliked, arguing that acting swiftly to combat the public health and economic crisis was their top priority.
Among the bill’s key provisions:
- A dramatic increase in unemployment insurance benefits. That would include about $600 per person per week in federal money, which would be in addition to what people get from states.
- Direct checks of $1,200 per person for many adults and $500 for dependent children. The Washington Post created a stimulus payment calculator.
- Forgivable loans for small businesses to cover payroll and other business costs.
- A $500 billion loan program that would aid airlines and other large industries impacted by the crisis.
- $150 billion in aid for states and local governments.
- $100 billion for emergency funding for hospitals.
Lawmakers in both the House and Senate have stressed that additional response legislation will be necessary, but that they sought to quickly infuse cash into the health care system and the economy.
“We do know that we must do more … this cannot be our final bill,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Friday ahead of the bill’s passage. She said that state and local governments, as well as health care systems, will require more financial support.
“Senate Republicans drafted a corporate friendly bill that failed to meaningfully support the millions who are losing their jobs. Instead, Democrats secured a package that invests $2 trillion into families, hospitals and small businesses,” said Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.).
Rep. Donna Shalala (D-Fla.) said the bill will “provide the people in my community with the needed relief from this pandemic.”
She added, “My hope is that after we have starved this virus, we will make a national commitment to permanently rebuild our public health infrastructure.”