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Coronavirus: Senate agrees $2tn stimulus package with Trump Coronavirus: $2tn coronavirus bill held up by US Senate snag
(about 2 hours later)
A stimulus package worth $2 trillion (£1.7tn) has been agreed by US Senate leaders and the White House to ease the impact of coronavirus. A last-minute row is delaying a vote in Congress on a $2tn (£1.7tn) coronavirus relief bill that would be the largest economic stimulus in US history.
It includes direct payments of $1,200 to most American adults and aid to help small businesses pay workers. Republican and Democratic senators have been arguing over jobless benefits in the titanic spending legislation.
If passed, it would be the largest government economic stimulus in US history. Its full details are unknown. The plan includes direct payments of $1,200 to most American adults and aid to help small businesses pay workers.
Full details of the deal, which Congress is expected to pass, are not known. The US has recorded approaching 1,000 coronavirus deaths and about 66,000 confirmed infections.
Financial markets around the world rose on news of the deal. More than 21,000 people with coronavirus have died across the planet since it emerged in China's Wuhan province in December, while the number of infections races towards half a million.
How did lawmakers react? Southern Europe is now at the centre of the pandemic, with Italy and Spain recording hundreds of new deaths every day.
Critics from both sides of the aisle are threatening to hold up the titanic spending package. What's the snag in Congress?
Three Republican senators, Tim Scott, Ben Sasse and Lindsey Graham, said the bill had a "massive drafting error" that meant "there is a strong incentive for employees to be laid off instead of going to work". President Donald Trump, a Republican, said on Wednesday he would sign the bill as soon as it reached his desk.
Unless this was fixed, or the government ensured no-one would earn more by not working than working, "we must sadly oppose the fast-tracking of this bill", they said in a joint statement. But Republican senators Tim Scott, Rick Scott, Ben Sasse and Lindsey Graham said the bill's major expansion of jobless benefits provided "a strong incentive for employees to be laid off instead of going to work".
Senator Bernie Sanders, who is running for the Democratic presidential nomination, said he would oppose the stimulus bill unless the three senators dropped their objections to language on the jobless benefits. They said they would oppose the bill unless it was fixed to ensure workers could not have a higher income while unemployed than in a job.
"I am prepared to put a hold on this bill until stronger conditions are imposed on the $500bn corporate welfare fund," Reuters quoted Mr Sanders as saying. Senator Bernie Sanders, who is running for the Democratic presidential nomination, said he would oppose the bill unless the Republicans dropped their objections.
Left-wing Democratic congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who represents the Bronx neighbourhood of New York City, called the details of the bill "concerning". He also demanded tougher conditions on the legislation's "corporate welfare".
She tweeted that it "seems to give a *HALF TRILLION DOLLARS* away to big corporations", with very few protections for workers. The bill does have cross-party support, but it must still be voted through the Senate and House of Representatives before the president signs it into law.
The bill does have cross-party support, but it must still be voted through the Senate and House of Representatives before President Trump signs it into law. Despite the eleventh-hour dispute, US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said at the White House on Wednesday: "Our expectation is this bill passes tonight and gets to the House tomorrow."
Both Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said their respective parties were willing move ahead with the bill. Both Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer had agreed on the bill.
Meanwhile, in New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo dismissed the plan as "terrible for the state" and called the proposed $3.8bn "a drop in the bucket".
He said his hard-hit state was facing a $15bn revenue shortfall, and estimated that $1bn has already been spent on the coronavirus response.
The details of the bill have not yet gone to the House, making some lawmakers wary of signalling their early approval.
What do we know about the deal?What do we know about the deal?
The agreement announced by Democratic and Republican senator leaders at 01:30EDT (05:30GMT) on Wednesday includes tax rebates, loans, money for hospitals and rescue packages. The agreement announced by Democratic and Republican Senate leaders in the early hours of Wednesday includes tax rebates, loans, money for hospitals and rescue packages.
Individuals who earn $75,000 or less would get direct payments of $1,200 each. Married couples who have household income of up to $150,000 would receive $2,400 and an additional $500 per each child. Though the nearly 900-page bill's price tag amounts to roughly half the size of the US government's annual budget, little has emerged of its finer details.
Individuals who earn $75,000 or less would get direct payments of $1,200 each. Married couples with household income of up to $150,000 would receive $2,400 and an additional $500 per each child.
Mr McConnell described the package as a "wartime level of investment" in the US nation.Mr McConnell described the package as a "wartime level of investment" in the US nation.
Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, who has remained in Washington as most lawmakers have returned to their home districts, has voiced her hope that the bill can be passed by unanimous consent, which would allow members of Congress to stay away from the House chamber in order to cast their votes. The Democratic speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, said she hoped the bill could be passed by voice vote.
If any member objects to unanimous consent, lawmakers will be asked to return to Washington and vote over the course of an entire day, in order to limit how many people are present on the House floor at one time. That would allow members of Congress - several of whom have coronavirus or are self-isolating - to stay away from the chamber in order to cast their votes.
One factor that may delay its passage is the question of how voting will be conducted, given that some members of Congress are off with coronavirus or are self-isolating having come into contact with infected people. But if any member objected, lawmakers would be asked to return to Washington and vote over the course of an entire day, in order to limit how many people are present on the House floor at one time.
What is the situation in the US? What's the latest from the virus hotspot of New York?
With nearly 900 deaths and about 63,000 confirmed infections, America is more than midway through a 15-day attempt to slow the spread of the virus through social distancing. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Wednesday it is likely half of America's most populous city of more than eight million would catch coronavirus by the time the pandemic runs its course.
New York has had 285 deaths with coronavirus, more than any other state, and more than 30,800 patients as of Wednesday - about half of the total US caseload. By Wednesday morning, 199 New Yorkers had died from the disease and confirmed cases had reached 17,856.
According to the New York Times, 13 patients died in a matter of hours on Tuesday at a hospital in the Queens borough of the city, with a young doctor there describing "apocalyptic" scenes.
But there were signs of hope.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo spoke on Wednesday of tentative indications that the spread of the disease may be slowing.
On Sunday, hospital admissions were doubling every two days. But by Monday that rate had fallen to every 3.4 days, and on Tuesday every 4.7 days, Mr Cuomo said.
The whole of New York state had 285 coronavirus deaths and more than 30,800 patients as of Wednesday morning - about half of the total US caseload.
What is the situation elsewhere in the US?
The US Federal Emergency Management Agency said New York, North Carolina and Hawaii had requested special mortuary teams to be ready for mass casualties.
New Orleans, Louisiana, where crowds celebrated Mardi Gras last month, has recorded the world's highest growth rate in coronavirus cases.
On Thursday, the governors of Minnesota and Idaho issued state-wide "stay at home" orders, joining at least 17 other states, including New York, California and Texas.On Thursday, the governors of Minnesota and Idaho issued state-wide "stay at home" orders, joining at least 17 other states, including New York, California and Texas.
California's governor Gavin Newsom said one million Californians had registered as unemployed, and that four out of five major banks had agreed to a 90-day grace period for mortgage payments for those affected by coronavirus. California's Governor Gavin Newsom said one million Californians had registered as unemployed just this month.
Nearly 21,000 people have died with coronavirus across the planet since it emerged in China's Wuhan province in December, and more than 460,000 infections have been confirmed. The US is more than midway through a 15-day attempt to slow the spread of the virus through social distancing.
Southern Europe is now at the centre of the pandemic, with Italy and Spain recording hundreds of new deaths every day.
Governments around the world have responded by locking down societies in the hope of slowing the spread of the virus.
How have you been affected by the issues relating to coronavirus? Share your experiences by emailing haveyoursay@bbc.co.uk.How have you been affected by the issues relating to coronavirus? Share your experiences by emailing haveyoursay@bbc.co.uk.
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