The US House of Representatives approved a $ 2.2 trillion package - the largest in US history - to help individuals and companies cope with the economic slowdown caused by the outbreak of the Coronavirus, and President Donald Trump quickly signed it into law into effect.
The package was almost unanimously approved by the Republican Senate on Wednesday. The rare support of both parties in Congress to take action highlights how serious legislators are dealing with the global pandemic as Americans struggle and the health-care system faces the risk of collapse.
"Our country faces an unprecedented economic and health emergency due to the Corona virus pandemic, the most severe pandemic in more than 100 years ... Whatever we do then, we will ratify this legislation now," said Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House of Representatives, at the end of a three-hour debate in the Chamber of Deputies. . ”
The move pumps billions of dollars to health service providers on the front lines of confrontation with the virus.
The Democratic-led House of Representatives approved the package in a discretionary vote after dropping a procedural challenge from Republican Representative Thomas Massey, who sought to impose a registered official vote.
In order to thwart Massi's attempt to delay the passage of the law, hundreds of lawmakers from both parties rushed to Washington despite the risk of catching the virus. For many, this meant long trips by car or air travel during the night.
Trump, a Republican, criticized Massey on Twitter, saying he should be expelled outside the party.
"All he wants is advertising," he wrote. He won't be able to stop him, just delay him. ”
Others said it jeopardized the health of legislators.
At least three members of the US Congress were found to be infected with the Corona virus and more than twenty self-quarantined to limit its spread.
"Thomas Massey, this is disgusting," said Democratic Rep. Max Rose on Fox News. This is inhumane. ”
The rescue package includes $ 500 billion for the affected industries and $ 290 billion to finance payments of up to $ 3,000 for millions of families.
It also includes $ 350 billion in loans to small businesses, $ 250 billion in expansion of unemployment benefits, and $ 100 billion in hospitals and related health systems.
On Thursday, the United States overtook both China and Italy, becoming the country with the largest number of HIV infections. The number of American cases exceeded 100,000, and deaths exceeded 1,300.
To make matters worse, the Department of Labor announced that the number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits increased to 3.28 million, at its highest level ever.