President Donald Trump signed an unprecedented $2.2 trillion economic rescue package into law on Friday.
Congress passed the legislation this week to support businesses, rush resources to healthcare providers overburdened due to the coronavirus crisis and help struggling families during the deepening epidemic.
Washington moved urgently to stem an economic free fall caused by widespread restrictions meant to slow the spread of the virus that have shut schools, closed businesses and brought American life in many places to a virtual standstill.
“This will deliver urgently needed relief,” Trump said as he signed the bill in the Oval Office, flanked only by Republican lawmakers. He thanked members of both parties for putting Americans “first.”
"This is a very important day outside the single biggest economic relief package in American history and I must say and or any other package by the way.
"It's twice as large as any relief ever signed and it's $2.2billion but it actually goes up to $6.2 potentially billion dollars, trillion dollars.
"So you're talking about a $6.2 trillion bill, nothing like that and this will deliver urgently needed relief to our nations' families, workers and businesses."
- Video report by ITV News Washington Correspondent Robert Moore
The US President also told reporters of his phone call with Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who has tested positive for the virus, saying: "Before he even said hello, he said we needed ventilators."
Trump added: "I said wow, that's a big statement, and hopefully he's going to be in good shape."
Earlier on Friday, the House of Representatives gave near-unanimous approval after an impassioned session conducted along the social distancing guidelines imposed by the crisis.
Many lawmakers sped to Washington to participate - their numbers swollen after a maverick Republican signalled he’d try to force a roll call vote - though dozens of others remained safely in their home districts.
The Senate passed the bill unanimously on Wednesday.
“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.
The $2.2 trillion legislation will speed government payments of $1,200 to most Americans and increase benefits for millions of people thrown out of work. Businesses - big and small - will get loans, grants and tax breaks.
It will send unprecedented billions to states and local governments, and the nation’s all but overwhelmed healthcare system.
“This pathogen does not recognise party lines, and no partisan solution will defeat it. Neither will the government acting alone,” said Liz Cheney.
“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.”
Despite reservations, arch conservatives joined with progressives like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to back the bill, which moved quickly through a Congress that’s been battered by partisanship and is itself not immune to the suffering the virus has caused.
The legislation will give $1,200 direct payments to individuals and make way for a flood of subsidised loans, grants and tax breaks to businesses facing extinction in an economic shutdown caused as Americans self-isolate by the tens of millions. It dwarfs prior Washington responses to crises like 9/11, the 2008 financial crisis, and natural disasters.
How will the Bill support America?
- $300 billion in direct cash payments available to every US citizen earning less than $99,000 per year
- $3,400 for a typical family of four
- $350 billion in job retention loans for small businesses with loan forgiveness available for businesses who continue paying their workers - the workers get paid
- $200 billion in expanded unemployment benefits - average worker who has lost their job will recieve 100% of their salary for up to 4 full months
- $500 billion for support to hard-hit industries
- $100 billion to support doctors, nurses and hospitals
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