President Trump signed the $2.2 trillion coronavirus stimulus package on Friday after the House of Representatives passed the unprecedented legislation. It will provide relief for American workers and businesses left reeling from the tandem health and economic crises.
The House approved the measure by a voice vote, with the majorities of both parties supporting the largest relief bill in recent memory. It will provide payments of up to $1,200 to millions of Americans, expand unemployment benefits, extend financial help for businesses both large and small, offer billions to state and local governments and grant money to the nation's hard-hit hospitals.
“The American people deserve a government-wide, visionary, evidence-based response to address these threats to their lives and their livelihood," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said. "And they need it now."
White House officials and congressional leaders have suggested that some Americans will see direct payments of up to $1,200 within three weeks.
The proposal comes at a key moment for the nose-diving economy: On Thursday, the Labor Department revealed that 3.28 million Americans filed unemployment claims last week after businesses across the country closed to slow the disease's spread, shattering a decades-old record. Hospitals have been inundated with patients and have struggled to gain access to the necessary equipment and resources.
The U.S. has more than 94,000 coronavirus cases, the most in the world, according to a database compiled by Johns Hopkins University. There have been at least 1,438 deaths related to the virus in the country.
Passage came after Democratic and Republican leaders joined forces to head off an effort by Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., to force a full yes or no vote on the measure, which could have delayed approval with so many lawmakers scattered around the country. Trump slammed Massie as a "third rate grandstander" and called for him to be thrown out of the Republican Party.
In making his motion, Massie said he wanted to ensure “our republic doesn’t die by unanimous consent in an empty chamber.”
But the presiding officer, Rep. Anthony Brown, D-Md., ruled that there was no need for a roll-call vote.
The House is now adjourned until March 31. The Senate does not have another scheduled vote until April 20, although Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said lawmakers could convene before then if Congress takes further action.
Pelosi, during extended remarks before the vote, said "this cannot be our final bill” to respond to the virus outbreak.