Senate Passes $2 Trillion Coronavirus Relief Bill, Now Moves To House

Coronavirus Bill
Photo by ERIK S LESSER/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

The Senate passed a $2 trillion coronavirus relief bill Wednesday, the largest piece of recovery legislation ever. The vote was unanimous — 96-0, a rarity.

President Donald Trump has said that he will sign the legislation, which provides $1,200 in direct cash payments for most Americans, expanded unemployment benefits including those to freelancers and independent contractors, a $350 billion fund for government-backed loans for small businesses and $500 billion for distressed industries.

The bill is expected to provide a lifeline to sectors of the entertainment industry, as theater owners and showbiz unions offered praise for the legislation on Wednesday evening. (A rundown for what it means for the industry workforce is here).

Senators were given extra time to cast their votes on the floor of the chamber, out of concern that they would otherwise mingle and not engage in social distancing.

That became especially important in recent days, after Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) announced that he tested positive for the coronavirus. Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) and Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) then announced that they would self-quarantine as a precaution because of their interactions with Paul. Hours before the vote, Sen. John Thune (R-SD) said that he, too, would miss the vote, having flown back home earlier in the day because he was not feeling well.

The legislation will now move to the House, where Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said that it will come to the floor Friday in a voice vote. House members are in their home districts this week, and Hoyer said that some representatives may not be able to make the trip back to D.C. because of self-quarantining, limited flight options and stay-at-home orders.

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