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White House, Senate Leaders Agree On $2 Trillion Stimulus Bill -- Here’s What’s In It




Socially distanced apart, Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), and Director of the National Economic Council Larry Kudlow attend a meeting with a select group of Senate Republicans, Senate Democrats, and Trump administration officials in the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill March 20, 2020 in Washington, DC.
Socially distanced apart, Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), and Director of the National Economic Council Larry Kudlow attend a meeting with a select group of Senate Republicans, Senate Democrats, and Trump administration officials in the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill March 20, 2020 in Washington, DC.
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The White House and Senate leaders of both parties announced agreement early Wednesday on an unprecedented $2 trillion emergency bill to rush sweeping aid to businesses, workers and a health care system slammed by the coronavirus pandemic.

The sprawling, 500 page-plus measure is the third coronavirus response bill produced by Congress and by far the largest, building on earlier efforts focused on vaccines and emergency response, sick and family medical leave for workers, and food aid. It would give direct payments to most Americans, expand unemployment benefits and provide a $367 billion program for small businesses to keep making payroll while workers are forced to stay home. One of the last issues to close concerned $500 billion for guaranteed, subsidized loans to larger industries, including a fight over how generous to be with the airlines. Hospitals would get significant help as well. The package would also give one-time direct payments to Americans - $1,200 per adult making up to $75,000 a year, and $2,400 to a married couple making up to $150,000, with $500 payments per child.

The urgently needed measure is the largest economic rescue bill in history. It is intended as a weekslong or monthslong patch for an economy spiraling into recession - or worse - and a nation facing a potentially ghastly toll. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Wednesday morning on CNN that he expects approval later in the day Wednesday. That would leave final congressional approval up to the Democratic-controlled House. In a written statement, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said the bipartisan agreement “takes us a long way down the road in meeting the needs of the American people” but she stopped short of fully endorsing it. 

Today on AirTalk, we’ll break down the stimulus bill and explain what’s in the agreed-upon version, what isn’t, whether the House is expected to approve it and how much relief it will ultimately provide.

With files from the Associated Press

Guest:

Ron Elving, senior editor and correspondent on the Washington Desk for NPR News; he tweets @NPRrelving