U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), trailed by reporters, walks to the floor of the House of Representatives in the U.S. Capitol on March 27, 2020 in Washington, DC.
Win McNamee | Getty Images
The House passed a $2 trillion coronavirus relief bill on Friday, sending the unprecedented measure to President Donald Trump’s desk after a scramble to block efforts to delay its passage.
The plan, which includes one-time payments to individuals, strengthened unemployment insurance, additional health-care funding and loans and grants to businesses to deter layoffs, got through the Senate unanimously on Wednesday night. On Thursday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi described the bill “as mitigation” of the disease’s destruction, predicting there would be more plans to aid “recovery.”
Trump has promised to sign the legislation “immediately.” While it is unclear how quickly the government will dole out some of the money such as small business loans, the White House and congressional leaders have said some individuals will see direct payments of up to $1,200 within three weeks.
The push to pass the proposal comes a day after data showed unemployment claims skyrocketed to a record 3.3 million last week after businesses across the country closed to slow the pandemic’s spread. Hospitals, particularly in ravaged New York, have asked for more resources as they struggle to keep up with a rush of coronavirus patients.
The U.S. now has more than 92,000 coronavirus cases, the most in the world, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. At least 1,380 deaths in the U.S. have been linked to COVID-19.
The moments before the vote underscored the risks the outbreak poses and the unconventional tactics Congress has deployed to pass legislation in recent weeks. As leaders called representatives into the chamber, some of them fresh off last-second trips back to Washington, they urged them to use “proper social distancing practices.”
House leaders tried to gather a majority of members to block Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., from requesting a traditional recorded vote on the legislation. Representatives sat in the gallery usually reserved for the public to increase the distance among them.
Pelosi gave extended remarks as she waited for enough members to reach the floor Friday. She joked, “the sooner you come, the shorter my remarks will be.”
In closing before the vote, Pelosi thanked the front line workers who have risked their safety fighting the outbreak.
“Congress must show the same courage, same resilience and same strength … to put families and workers first,” she said.
This story is developing. Please check back for updates.