President Donald Trump signed an original $2.2 trillion economic rescue package into law Friday after a prompt and near-unanimous action by Congress this week to support businesses, rush resources to overburdened health care providers and help needy families during the deepening coronavirus epidemic.
Acting with unity and resolve unseen since the 9/11 attacks, the District quickly moved to stem an economic free-fall caused by the widespread restrictions meant to slow the spread of the virus. The novel coronavirus has shuttered schools, closed businesses, and brought American life in many places to a virtual standstill.
“The American people deserve a government-wide, visionary, evidence-based response to address these threats to their lives and their livelihood and they need it now,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.
The $2.2 trillion legislation will speed government payments of $1,200 to most Americans and increase jobless benefits for millions of people laid off from work. Big and small businesses will get loans, grants, and tax breaks. It will send unprecedented billions to states and local government, and the nation’s but overpower the health care system.
“This pathogen does not recognize party lines, and no partisan solution will defeat it. Neither will the government acting alone,” said GOP Whip Liz Cheney of Wyoming. “This is not a time for cynicism or invective or second-guessing. This is a time to remember that we are citizens of the greatest nation on Earth, that we have overcome every challenge we have faced, and we will overcome this one.”
Although reservations, arch-conservatives joined with progressives to back to the bill, like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D- N.Y., which moved swiftly through a Congress that has been reckoned by partisanship and is itself not immune to the suffering the virus has caused. On Friday, Rep. Joe Cunningham, D-S.C., announced that he tested positive for the virus.
Tea party Republicans said government orders to cover businesses justified actions that conflict with small-government ideology. Liberal recognized the generous corporate rescues that accompany more substantial unemployment benefits, deferrals of student loans, and an enormous surge of funding for health care and other agencies responding to the crisis.