Coronavirus: Senate agrees $2tn stimulus package with Trump

The bipartisan package is the largest government economic stimulus in US history. …

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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.

It includes direct payments of $1,200 to most American adults and aid to help small businesses pay workers.

If passed, it would be the largest government economic stimulus in US history. Its full details are unknown.

Full details of the deal, which Congress is expected to pass, are not known.

Financial markets around the world rose on news of the deal.

How did lawmakers react?

Critics from both sides of the aisle are threatening to hold up the titanic spending package.

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».

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.

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Media captionJulie Davis, a full-time ride-share driver in Seattle, chronicles the struggle she is facing

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.

«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.

Left-wing Democratic congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who represents the Bronx neighbourhood of New York City, called the details of the bill «concerning».

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 President Trump signs it into law.

Both Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said their respective parties were willing move ahead with 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?

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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What is the situation in the US?

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 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.

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.

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.

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.

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