- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 25, 2020

The Senate passed the $2.2 trillion emergency stimulus package to assist the overly stressed health care system and tumbling economy Wednesday night.

The bipartisan deal passed on a 96-0 vote.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell touted the unanimous vote as a victory for bipartisanship, despite a drawn-out partisan negotiation process.

“We pivoted from one of the most partisan exercises you could ever be engaged in, to a bipartisan, 100 to nothing, $2 trillion rescue package for the country,” the Kentucky Republican said. “Not much to complain about on process when you get that kind of an outcome for the country.”

Several senators missed votes because they were self-quarantined.

Senate Majority Whip John Thune, South Dakota Republican, was one of the latest to miss the votes; he flew home Wednesday because he wasn’t feeling well.

His spokesman said Mr. Thune consulted with the attending Senate physician and his family doctor, and was told, based on how he was feeling, that “there was no need for additional action at this point and [he] was encouraged to continue self-monitoring.”

The bill will give $500 billion in direct payments to the American public, bolster unemployment insurance with a surge of $250 billion, provide $500 billion in loans to big businesses, and create a $350 billion loan program for small businesses.

It also funnels $130 billion into the stretched-thin health-care system to get more resources and equipment to those directly fighting the disease.

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer of New York said there’s no way to know when the “plague” will end in the U.S.

“When there’s a crisis of this magnitude, the private sector cannot solve it,” Mr. Schumer said. “Government is the only force large enough to staunch the bleeding and begin the healing. This is a time when the American people need their government.”

The bill now needs to clear the House for final passage.

House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer, Maryland Democrat, announced during the vote that his chamber will take up the package via a voice vote at 9 a.m. Friday.

A voice vote will be unrecorded, but members can still debate and enter their votes in the Congressional record.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on PBS NewsHour earlier Wednesday evening that her party is already looking ahead to address what they would have liked to see in this third coronavirus package in subsequent bills.

The Senate stands adjourned until April 20 now that the package has passed out of their chamber. Mr. McConnell said senators would have 24 hours notice if they need to return before then.

“Let’s continue to pray for one another, for all of our families and for our country,” he said.

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