Senate passes $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus package

The Senate passed a historic $2 trillion coronavirus relief package Wednesday night, as it tries to stem the destruction the pandemic has brought to American lives and wallets. 

The bill now heads to the House, which will push to pass it Friday by voice vote as most representatives are out of Washington. 

The 880-page legislation, crafted at a furious pace in recent days, includes direct payments to individuals, stronger unemployment insurance, loans and grants to businesses and more health care resources for hospitals, states and municipalities. It includes requirements that insurance providers cover preventive services for the coronavirus disease COVID-19.

The Senate passed the plan to combat the outbreak as the crisis started to thin its ranks. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., did not vote after testing positive for COVID-19, and neither did GOP Sens. Mitt Romney and Mike Lee of Utah, both in isolation after contact with their colleague. Sen. John Thune, a South Dakota senator and second-ranking Republican, also missed the vote after feeling ill. 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said the Senate would not return after the vote until April 20. However, he said the chamber would be “nimble.” 

“If circumstances require the Senate to return for a vote sooner than April the 20th we will provide at least 24 hours of notice,” he said. 

Before passing the bill, the Senate first rejected an amendment proposed by Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., to cap unemployment insurance at a recipient’s previous wages. It failed in a 48-48 vote. 

Sasse and three of his GOP colleagues threatened to delay passage of the legislation if they could not get a vote on an amendment. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., then suggested he could hold up the bill’s approval if they did not back down from their opposition. 

While the snag caused fears the bill would not pass, hitting U.S. stock indexes just before markets closed Wednesday, it ultimately did not stop the Senate from approving the proposal. 

This story is developing. Please check back for updates. 

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