Senate, Trump approve relief bill
by Harvest Prude
Posted 3/19/20, 10:07 am
WASHINGTON—President Donald Trump signed the first major pandemic economic aid package on Wednesday, with a price tag of $104 billion. The Senate approved the deal by a vote of 90-8. The bill, which passed in the House last week, covers food aid, sick pay, unemployment insurance, and free testing for COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus.
What happens next? Congress is not done legislating. While the House takes a one-week recess, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., is expected to keep the senators in town to negotiate the next phase of an economic stimulus plan. The White House has proposed $500 billion in direct payments to U.S. households that could begin April 6. Also on Wednesday, Trump declared war on COVID-19, calling it “the invisible enemy” and invoking emergency powers granted in the Defense Production Act. The law dates back to the Korean War and gives the president the authority to compel industries to expand the production of vital materials. The administration could use those powers to address a shortage of face masks, ventilators, and other supplies.
Dig deeper: Read Leah Hickman’s report on how hospitals and healthcare professionals are responding to ethical questions raised by the outbreak.
Editor’s note: WORLD has updated this report since its original posting.
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Harvest is a reporter for WORLD based in Washington, D.C.