The US Senate has approved a historic $2 trillion bill to stimulate the sagging US economy.
This is also the largest-ever rescue package in the nation’s history and provides a lifeline to suffering Americans, depleted hospitals and an economy ravaged by the rapid spread of the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19 outbreak.
After weeks of negotiations, the deal thrashed out between Republicans, Democrats and the White House includes cash payments to American taxpayers; several hundred billion dollars in grants and loans to small businesses and core industries; medical equipment to hospitals and unemployment benefits.
The Senate cleared these measures by an overwhelming majority. The bill is now headed next to the House of Representatives, which must also pass it before it goes to President Donald Trump for his signature.
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The bill sets aside $250 billion for direct payments to individuals and families, $350 billion in small business loans, $250 billion in unemployment insurance benefits and $500 billion in loans for distressed companies.
Individuals earning less than $75,000 in adjusted gross income would directly receive $1,200 each. Married couples earning up to $150,000 will receive $2,400 and an additional $500 per each child.
The payments would be scaled down by income and phased out entirely at $99,000 for singles and $198,000 for couples without children.
In a major relief to hospitals, the bill provides $130 billion. Cash-strapped state and local governments too will receive a $150 billion lifeline.
Interestingly, the bill has provisions that would block Trump and his family members, as well as other top government officials and members of Congress, from accessing loans or investments from Treasury programmes in the stimulus package.
(With agency inputs)