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U.S. House leaders determined to pass US$2.2 trillion coronavirus bill
The Saigon Times
Friday,  Mar 27, 2020,12:18 (GMT+7)

U.S. House leaders determined to pass US$2.2 trillion coronavirus bill

The Saigon Times

The U.S. Capitol Building as seen ahead of a vote on the coronavirus (COVID-19) relief bill on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., March 25, 2020 - PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - Leaders of the U.S. House of Representatives are determined to pass a US$2.2 trillion (£1.81 trillion) coronavirus relief bill on Friday, or at the very latest on Saturday, hoping to provide the quickest help possible as deaths mount and the economy reels.

On a call with fellow Democrats on Thursday afternoon, Speaker Nancy Pelosi urged House members not to do anything to delay the unprecedented economic aid package that the U.S. Senate backed unanimously on Wednesday night, lawmakers and aides said.

Representative Madeleine Dean said the message on the two-hour call was “Let’s get this done tomorrow if we possibly can. If not, at the very latest Saturday.”

Dean said she would drive to Washington from her Pennsylvania district for the debate, due to start at 9 a.m. (1300 GMT). “It was so obvious from everyone’s conversation on the call, we know what we have to do. We have to get relief to the American people now,” Dean said.

The Senate bill - which would be the largest fiscal relief measure ever passed by the U.S. Congress - will rush direct payments to Americans within three weeks if the Democratic-controlled House backs it and Republican President Donald Trump signs it into law.

“The House of Representatives must now pass this bill, hopefully without delay. I think it’s got tremendous support,” Trump said at a daily coronavirus briefing.

The US$2.2 trillion measure includes US$500 billion to help hard-hit industries and a comparable amount for payments of up to US$3,000 to millions of families.

The legislation will also provide US$350 billion for small-business loans, US$250 billion for expanded unemployment aid and at least US$100 billion for hospitals and related health systems.

The Republican-led Senate approved it 96-0 late on Wednesday. The unanimous vote, a rare departure from bitter partisanship in Washington, underscored how seriously members of Congress are taking the global pandemic as Americans suffer and the medical system reels.

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