Coronavirus: Senate agrees $1.8tn stimulus package with Trump
A stimulus package worth more than $1.8 trillion (£1.5tn) has been agreed by US Senate leaders and the White House to ease the impact of coronavirus.
It reportedly includes payments of $1,200 to most American adults and aid to help small businesses pay workers.
Full details of the deal, which Congress is expected to pass, are not known.
Financial markets around the world rose on news of the deal.
President Donald Trump has said he hopes the US will shake off coronavirus within less than three weeks.
But the top US infectious disease expert, Anthony Fauci, warned that “you have to be very flexible” about a timeframe for ending the crisis.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo warned the illness was spreading faster than “a bullet train” in his state, which is at the centre of the pandemic in the US.
After 802 deaths and 55,225 confirmed infections, America is more than midway through a 15-day attempt to slow the spread of the virus through social distancing.
Around 19,000 people have died with coronavirus across the planet since it emerged in China’s Wuhan province in January, and more than 425,000 infections have been confirmed.
Southern Europe is now at the centre of the pandemic, with Italy and Spain recording hundreds of new deaths every day.
Governments around the world have responded by locking down societies in the hope of slowing the spread of the virus.
What do we know about the deal?
The agreement announced by Democratic and Republican senator leaders at 01:30EDT (05:30GMT) on Wednesday includes tax rebates, loans, money for hospitals and rescue packages.
According to US media, individuals who earn $75,000 or less would get direct payments of $1,200 each, with married couples earning up to $150,000 receiving $2,400 and an additional $500 per each child.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell described the package as a “wartime level of investment” in the US nation. If passed, it would be the largest government economic stimulus in US history.
It must still be voted through the House of Representatives and the Senate before President Trump signs it off but it enjoys cross-party support.
One factor that may delay its passage is the question of how voting will be conducted, given that some members of Congress are off with coronavirus or are self-isolating having come into contact with infected people.
How did lawmakers react?
The details of the bill have not yet gone to the House, making some lawmakers wary of signalling their early approval.
Left-wing Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who represents the Bronx neighbourhood of New York City, called the details of the bill “concerning”, tweeting that it “seems to give a *HALF TRILLION DOLLARS* away to big corporations,” with very few protections for workers.
Michigan Congressman Justin Amash, who left the Republican party in July 2019, dismissed the plan as “corporate welfare” that would serve to widen “the gap between rich and poor”. – bbc.com