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Covid-19: US Congress passes largest relief package in history English.Lokmat.com

Covid-19: US Congress passes largest relief package in history

(IANS) Displaying uncharacteristic political solidarity, the US Congress has voted the largest ever economic stimulus package worth about $2 trillion to rescue the nation from the clutches of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Covid-19: US Congress passes largest relief package in history

New York, March 27 Displaying uncharacteristic political solidarity, the US Congress has voted the largest ever economic stimulus package worth about $2 trillion to rescue the nation from the clutches of the Covid-19 pandemic.

After months of confrontation and invective capped by President Donald Trump's impeachment, the two parties came together to vote the recovery package unanimously on Friday in the House of Representatives, after the Senate had passed it unanimously.

President Trump has said that he will sign it as soon as he gets it.

The highlight of the package, which amounts to almost 10 per cent of the US gross domestic product, is an outright payment of $1,200 each to most adults in the US and $500 each for children.

It includes aid for businesses, allocation for medical efforts against the coronavirus, food assistance and help for states and local governments.

The voting in the House came on a day when the US had recorded 86,012 cases, surpassing China where the pandemic began. In a bleak economic picture, 3.3 million officially registered as unemployed, while there is also a large number of others who have not yet applied for unemployment insurance benefit, many of them from the informal sector.

It was done by voice vote as many representatives were stuck in their constituencies either because of self-quarantine or cancellation of flights.

After the Senate had earlier passed the legislation for the package after more than a week of haggling between the White House and the Democrats, Trump said in a change of tone: "I want to thank Democrats and Republicans in the Senate."

Democrat House Speaker Nancy Pelosi thanked Republican Senate leaders, with whom she has been at odds on various issues.

Later she said: "We are like families and have our differences" but know what is important and come together.

The apolitical Commerce Secretary Steven Mnuchin negotiated the package with the Democrats because of the toxic relations Trump and Republican leaders had with the Democrats.

High drama preceded the passage of the relief package legislation, even as the nation beaten down economically by the movement restrictions waited for help.

While the initial block came from Democrats, who wanted to ensure that the assistance given to corporations were not used buoy their stock prices or for management payouts, and wanted to increase benefits to workers, the final hurdle came from four Republican Senators opposing extension of unemployment benefits.

Forceful action by Trump and the party leadership made them back down.

In the House, a lone Republican representative threatened to block the voting using procedural tactics. Trump came down hard on him, calling for his expulsion from the party.

In a tweet, Trump even agreed with Democratic Party leader John Kerry who had used an unprintable epithet to describe Representative Thomas Massie.

(Arul Louis can be contacted at arul.l@.in and followed on Twitter @arulouis)

( With inputs from IANS )

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