Senate Approves $2 Trillion Stimulus After Bipartisan Deal

On Wednesday afternoon, four Republican senators said they were concerned the new benefits would be larger than some people’s wages, prompting employers to lay off workers and some employees to prefer staying home and collecting unemployment payments.

“If this is not a drafting error, then this is the worst idea I have seen in a long time,” said Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina. “We need to create a sustainable system.”

Mr. Mnuchin said the extra payments were calculated as a way to ensure that states could get money out quickly, saying that he did not believe it would create any perverse incentives. Most Americans, he said, “want to keep their jobs.”

Still, the Republicans’ threat to hold up the bill because of the issue prompted Senator Bernie Sanders, independent of Vermont and a Democratic presidential contender, to issue his own warning that he, too, would seek to block the legislation for being too lenient on corporations. Later, in a speech on the floor, Mr. Sanders said he would support the bill despite his many reservations.

Encapsulating the sentiment of many lawmakers in both parties about the hastily negotiated package, Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska, one of the Republicans who sought to cap the jobless aid, said while he disagreed with Mr. Sanders, “I appreciate his candor in admitting that this is kind of a big crap sandwich.”

In the end, though, not a single senator voted “no.”

The hardest-fought concessions were related to the $500 billion aid fund for distressed businesses, which would include $425 billion for the Federal Reserve to leverage for loans to help broad groups of distressed companies and $75 billion for industry-specific loans to airlines and other hard-hit sectors.

Democrats insisted on stricter oversight, in the form of an inspector general and a five-person panel appointed by Congress. Republicans also agreed to require companies that accepted money through the fund to halt any stock buybacks for as long as they were receiving government assistance, plus an additional year.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/25/us/politics/coronavirus-senate-deal.html

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