- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Sen. Tom Cotton on Wednesday predicted swift passage of a $2 trillion legislative package designed to mitigate some of the negative economic effects of the coronavirus outbreak.

“I really want to say to workers and businesses all across the country: Just hang on there for a few more days,” the Arkansas Republican said on “Fox & Friends.” “Help is on the way as soon as this bill passes. I suspect it’ll pass the Senate later today and maybe be signed by the president as early as tomorrow.”

Congressional leaders early Wednesday announced a deal on the economic rescue bill after days of haggling over the fine print.

About $250 billion will go toward direct payments for individuals and families. It also includes $250 billion for unemployment insurance benefits, about $367 billion in loans to help small businesses make payroll and a $500 billion loan fund intended to help boost distressed corporations.

It also includes $150 billion for a state and local coronavirus relief fund and $130 billion for hospitals.

Mr. Cotton said that the deal “is not the bill that Nancy Pelosi proposed earlier this week with lots of extraneous measures.”

House Democrats had offered their own $2.5 trillion package that also included provisions related to collective bargaining, climate change and election rules.

The senator said the deal is akin to something Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans had proposed days earlier, only with more money for things like unemployment insurance, emergency medical equipment, cities, states and hospitals.

Senate Democrats had blocked procedural action to move the process forward, protesting that the GOP was offering too much of a giveaway to big corporations.

Mr. Cotton said he’s been hearing from business owners in his state the past several days about why Senate Democrats “dithered” with the package.

“They were going to have to start laying off workers tomorrow, [because] they literally have no customers coming in the door, they have no cash with which to make payroll,” he said.

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