President Trump signs coronavirus stimulus package in hopes of curbing COVID-19’s economic impact

Coronavirus

President Donald Trump takes questions during a briefing about the coronavirus in the James Brady Briefing Room, Wednesday, March 25, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

WASHINGTON (AP) – President Donald Trump on Friday signed the $2.2 trillion coronavirus stimulus package just hours after it passed a voice vote in the House of Representatives.

The far-reaching legislation stands as the largest emergency aid package in U.S. history. It injects a massive financial boost into a struggling economy with provisions aimed at helping American workers, small businesses and industries grappling with the economic disruption.

Key elements of the package include sending checks directly to individuals and families, an expansion of unemployment benefits, money for hard-hit hospitals and health care providers, financial assistance for small businesses and $500 billion in loans for distressed companies.

The money would likely be deposited directly into individuals’ bank accounts — as long as they’ve already authorized the IRS to send their tax refund that way over the past two years.

If not, the IRS would send out checks in the mail.

For those that haven’t filed a 2019 or 2018 tax return, the IRS would rely on information on file at the Social Security Administration, which keeps records on all Americans who have paid payroll taxes.

The House of Representatives gave near-unanimous approval the historic legislation designed to prevent the economy from collapsing and rush resources to overburdened health care providers and struggling families during the deepening coronavirus outbreak.

“The American people deserve a government-wide, visionary, evidence-based response to address these threats to their lives and their livelihood and they need it now,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

Friday’s House session followed an extraordinary 96-0 Senate vote late Wednesday.

The legislation will speed government payments of $1,200 to most Americans and increase jobless benefits for millions of people thrown out of work. Businesses big and small will get loans, grants and tax breaks. It will send unprecedented billions to states and local governments, and the nation’s all but overwhelmed health care system.

“This pathogen does not recognize party lines, and no partisan solution will defeat it. Neither will the government acting alone,” said GOP Whip Liz Cheney of Wyoming. “This is not a time for cynicism or invective or second-guessing. This is a time to remember that we are citizens of the greatest nation on Earth, that we have overcome every challenge we have faced, and we will overcome this one.”

Despite reservations, arch conservatives joined with progressives like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., to back the bill, which moved quickly through a Congress that’s been battered by partisanship and is itself not immune to the suffering the virus has caused. Rep. Joe Cunningham, D-S.C., announced Friday that he has tested positive, just the latest infection in Congress.

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