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U.S. House leaders plan to pass $2.2 trillion coronavirus bill Friday

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she expected the chamber to pass an estimated $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief bill when it meets on Friday, after the Senate overwhelmingly approved the unprecedented economic rescue legislation on Wednesday evening.

“Tomorrow we’ll bring the bill to the floor. It will pass with strong bipartisan support,” Pelosi, a Democrat, told reporters.

The legislation will rush direct payments to Americans within three weeks once the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives passes it and Republican President Donald Trump signs it into law, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said.

The Republican-led Senate approved the bill – which would be the largest fiscal stimulus measure ever passed by Congress – by 96 votes to zero late on Wednesday, after days of intense negotiations between Democratic and Republican lawmakers and Trump administration officials.

The unanimous Senate 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.

The unanimous support also increased the bill’s chances of easily winning approval in the House.

The package is intended to flood the country with cash in an effort to stem the crushing impact on the economy of an intensifying pandemic that has killed more than 1,000 people in the United States and infected nearly 70,000.

Related Coverage

  • Factbox: What's in the $2.2 trillion Senate coronavirus rescue package

The U.S. Labor Department reported on Thursday that the number of Americans filing claims for unemployment benefits surged to 3.28 million, the highest level ever.

Pelosi said there was no question more money would be needed to fight the coronavirus. She said House committees would be working on the next phase in the near term, even if the full chamber is not in session. Lawmakers have been told to be on call for possible votes.

House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy also backs the relief plan passed by the Senate. But he wants it to be allowed to work before deciding whether more legislation was needed.

“This will be probably the largest bill anybody in Congress has ever voted for,” he told reporters.

Only two other countries, China and Italy, have more coronavirus cases than the United States. The World Health Organization has warned that the country looks set to become the global pandemic’s epicenter.

The massive coronavirus rescue bill follows two others that became law this month. The money at stake amounts to nearly half of the total $4.7 trillion the federal government spends annually.

Trump has promised to sign the bill as soon as it passes the House.

Pelosi said House leaders were planning a voice vote on the rescue plan on Friday, but would be prepared for other contingencies. She had said that if there were calls for a roll-call vote, a ballot recorded by name, lawmakers might be able to vote by proxy, as not all would be able to be in Washington.

“If somebody has a different point of view (about the bill), they can put it in the record,” she said.

There was some opposition. Republican Representative Thomas Massie said he opposes the bill, and was uncomfortable with the idea of allowing it to pass on a voice vote, rather than recording every House member’s position on it.

“I’m having a real hard time with this,” Massie said on 55KRC talk radio in Cincinnati.

McCarthy predicted the measure would pass Friday morning following a debate.

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

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

And it includes $400 million to expand voting by mail and early voting in every state, amid some concern that coronavirus could interview with November’s general election. The virus has already postponed some of the primary elections, or nominating contests, to pick which Democrat will oppose Trump as he vies for re-election.

The House has 430 members, most of whom have been out of Washington since March 14. Many want to return for the vote, but it would be difficult for all to attend, given that at least two have tested positive for the coronavirus, a handful of others are in self-quarantine, and several states have issued stay-at-home orders. There are five vacant House seats.

The Senate’s No. 2 Republican, John Thune, missed Wednesday’s vote because he was not feeling well. His spokesman said Thune, 59, flew back to his state, South Dakota, on a charter flight Wednesday, accompanied by a Capitol Police officer and wearing a mask.

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House aims to push through $2 trillion coronavirus bill as holdout insists on formal vote

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. House was poised on Friday to pass a $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief package, with Democratic and Republican aides saying enough members had flocked to the Capitol to override a holdout Republican lawmaker who threatened to delay passage.

Leadership of the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives and top Republicans aimed to pass the largest relief measure that Congress has ever taken up in a voice vote, one of the fastest methods available, and pass it on to the Republican president for his signature.

“Today’s vote is about saving lives and livelihoods,” said Republican Representative Kevin Brady.

But Republican Representative Thomas Massie wrote on Twitter that he did not like that idea and would try to force the chamber to hold a formal, recorded vote. That could potentially delay action.

Lawmakers sat several seats apart from each other, maintaining distance as they waited for a chance to speak. The House scheduled three hours of debate, headed toward a possible vote sometime after noon EDT (1600 GMT).

As the debate unfolded, Massie sat toward the back of the chamber, chatting with other Republicans. It was unclear whether he would speak.

Republican President Donald Trump lashed out at Massie on Twitter, calling him a “third rate Grandstander.”

“He just wants the publicity. He can’t stop it, only delay,” the president wrote in a series of tweets. “…. throw Massie out of Republican Party!”

To minimize the threat of infection due to the coronavirus, the Capitol has laid out special procedures. Members are barred from sitting next to one another and would be called from their offices alphabetically for the vote. They will be required to use hand sanitizer before entering the chamber and encouraged to take the stairs, rather than use elevators, to better maintain social distancing.

Congress members and aides said they expected there would be enough lawmakers on hand to push through a vote if Massie demanded one. Republican Representative Greg Pence – Vice President Mike Pence’s older brother – said he had driven from Indiana in the Midwest for the vote, and others from as far away as California were present for the debate.

LAWMAKERS AT RISK

Most of the House’s 430 current members are in their home districts because of the coronavirus outbreak and would need to go to Washington if Massie forces a recorded vote – which could put them at further risk of contagion. At least three members of Congress have tested positive for the coronavirus and more than two dozen have self-quarantined to limit its spread.

Older people have proven especially vulnerable to the disease, and the average age of House members was 58 years old at the beginning of 2019, well above the average age of 38 for the U.S. population as whole.

The rescue package – which would be the largest fiscal relief measure ever passed by Congress – will rush direct payments to Americans within three weeks if the House backs it and Trump signs it into law. It passed the Republican-led Senate unanimously on Wednesday night.

The $2.2 trillion measure includes $500 billion to help hard-hit industries and $290 billion for payments of up to $3,000 to millions of families.

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

The rare but deep, bipartisan support in Congress underscored how seriously lawmakers are taking the global pandemic as Americans suffer and the medical system threatens to buckle.

The United States surpassed China and Italy on Thursday as the country with the most coronavirus cases. The number of U.S. cases passed 85,000, and the death toll exceeded 1,200.

The Labor Department on Thursday reported the number of Americans filing claims for unemployment benefits surged to 3.28 million, the highest level ever.

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U.S. lawmakers who tested positive for the coronavirus

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Three members of the U.S. Congress have tested positive for the new coronavirus, and more than two dozen others have said they are self-quarantining in hopes of limiting the spread of the pandemic.

House of Representatives leaders aim on Friday to pass the $2.2 trillion relief bill passed by the Senate on a voice vote late on Wednesday, which would spare most of the chamber’s 430 current members from having to travel back to Washington.

Here is a look at some of the lawmakers affected:

WHO HAS THE VIRUS?

Senator Rand Paul

The Kentucky Republican said on March 22 that he had tested positive and was in quarantine. He said he was asymptomatic and feeling fine and was tested out of an abundance of caution. He had been in the Senate and using the gym there in the days before he received his positive result. [nL1N2BF09W]

Representative Mario Diaz-Balart

The Florida Republican said on March 18 that he tested positive after developing symptoms on March 14. That was less than 24 hours after he and more than 400 other members of the House of Representatives crowded into the chamber to pass a sweeping coronavirus aid package.

Representative Ben McAdams

The Utah Democrat said on March 18 that he had the virus, also having developed symptoms on March 14. In a statement on Tuesday, the 45-year-old said he was hospitalized and doctors were monitoring his occasional need for oxygen.

WHO IS SELF-QUARANTINED?

Republican Senators Mitt Romney and Mike Lee said on Sunday they would self-quarantine after having spent time with Paul.

Romney said on Tuesday that he had tested negative for the virus but would stay in quarantine. His wife, Ann, has multiple sclerosis.

At least four other senators previously self-quarantined. They are Republicans Cory Gardner, Lindsey Graham, Rick Scott and Ted Cruz. All have since returned to public life.

On Wednesday, Republican Senator John Thune returned to his home in South Dakota on a chartered airplane after waking up feeling ill. Thune’s office said doctors encouraged him to continue “self-monitoring” but that self-quarantine was not necessary.

Democratic Senator and former presidential contender Amy Klobuchar said on Monday her husband, 52-year-old John Bessler, had the virus and was in the hospital, but she was not at risk because she had not seen him for two weeks. That is longer than the quarantine period.

More than two dozen House members have self-quarantined, some after exposure to Diaz-Balart or McAdams, and others after contacts with their constituents or staffers who later tested positive. Not all are still in isolation.

Three prominent Democratic House members on Wednesday said they were self-quarantining after experiencing symptoms: Seth Moulton and Ayanna Pressley and Katie Porter.

Pressley and Porter said they were awaiting test results, while Moulton said he did not take a test because he did not qualify for one.

Other members who have self-quarantined include: Republicans Steve Scalise, Mark Meadows, Tom Cole, Doug Collins, Drew Ferguson, Matt Gaetz, Paul Gosar and Ann Wagner, along with Democrats Don Beyer, Anthony Brindisi, Julia Brownley, Jason Crow, Joe Cunningham, Sharice Davids, Kendra Horn, Andy Kim, Gwen Moore, Stephanie Murphy, Ben Ray Lujan, David Price, Kathleen Rice, David Schweikert and John Yarmuth.

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

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Leaders of the U.S. House of Representatives are determined to pass a $2.2 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.

But there were warnings later on Thursday that at least one Republican might act to delay the vote into the weekend.

Representative Madeleine Dean said the message on Pelosi’s 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 on Friday morning. “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.

Related Coverage

  • U.S. House sets Friday debate for coronavirus aid bill
  • Factbox: What's in the $2.2 trillion Senate coronavirus rescue package

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

The legislation will also provide $350 billion for small-business loans, $250 billion for expanded unemployment aid and at least $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 threatens to buckle.

DEATHS MOUNT, MILLIONS OUT OF WORK

Pelosi told a weekly news conference she expected the bill would have strong support from House Democrats and Republicans.

The United States surpassed China and Italy on Thursday as the country with the most coronavirus cases, according to a Reuters tally. The number of U.S. cases passed 82,000, and the death toll reached almost 1,200.

The crisis has dealt a crushing blow to the economy, with thousands of businesses closing or cutting back. The Labor Department reported that the number of Americans filing claims for unemployment benefits surged to 3.28 million, the highest level ever.

Pelosi said there was no question more money would be needed to fight the coronavirus. She said House committees would work on the next phase in the near term, even if the full chamber is not in session.

House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy also backs the relief plan. But he wants it to be allowed to work before deciding on more legislation.

“This will be probably the largest bill anybody in Congress has ever voted for,” he told reporters. McCarthy predicted the measure would pass on Friday morning.

The $2.2 trillion bill follows two others that became law this month. The money at stake amounts to nearly half of the total $4.7 trillion the federal government spends annually.

Pelosi said House leaders planned to fast-track the rescue plan by passing it via a voice vote on Friday.

There could be opposition. Republican Representative Thomas Massie said he opposed the bill, and was uncomfortable with the idea of allowing it to pass on a voice vote, rather than recording how each House member voted.

“I’m having a real hard time with this,” Massie, an outspoken fiscal conservative, said on 55KRC talk radio in Cincinnati.

House leaders said late on Thursday that an unnamed House Republican might suggest a quorum is not present on Friday morning and call for a recorded vote for final passage. Democratic Majority Leader Steny Hoyer encouraged members to be at the Capitol by 10 a.m. (1400 GMT) on Friday.

“We will see if the bill can pass by voice vote or if a Republican forces a recorded vote,” Hoyer’s office said in a statement.

The House has 430 members, most of whom have been out of Washington since March 14.

It would be difficult for all of them to return, given that two have tested positive for the respiratory disease, a handful are in self-quarantine and several states have issued stay-at-home orders. There are five vacant House seats.

The Capitol has laid out special procedures – including barring members from sitting beside one another – to minimize the threat of infection, both to members and staff.

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After Senate vote, massive U.S. coronavirus bill moves to the House

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Senate’s unanimous passage of a $2 trillion coronavirus relief bill sent the unprecedented economic legislation to the House of Representatives, whose Democratic leaders hope to pass it on Friday.

The Republican-led Senate approved the massive bill – which would be the largest fiscal stimulus measure ever passed by Congress – by 96 votes to none late on Wednesday, overcoming bitter partisan negotiations and boosting its chances of passing the Democratic-majority House.

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.

“When there’s a crisis of this magnitude, the private sector cannot solve it,” said Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer.

“Individuals even with bravery and valor are not powerful enough to beat it back. Government is the only force large enough to staunch the bleeding and begin the healing.”

The package is intended to flood the country with cash in a bid to stem the crushing impact on the economy of an intensifying epidemic that has killed more than 900 people in the United States and infected at least 60,000.

It follows two others that became law this month. The money at stake amounts to nearly half of the total $4.7 trillion the U.S. government spends annually.

Republican President Donald Trump, who has promised to sign the bill as soon as it passes the House, expressed his delight on Twitter. “96-0 in the United States Senate. Congratulations AMERICA!” he wrote.

Only two other nations, China and Italy, have more coronavirus cases than the United States. The World Health Organization has warned the United States looks set to become the epicenter of the pandemic.

The House’s Democratic leaders announced that they would have a voice vote on Friday. Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she backed the bill, and was open to passing more legislation if needed to address the crisis in future.

The House Republican leadership is recommending a “yes” vote.

The massive bill, worth more than $2 trillion, includes a $500 billion fund to help hard-hit industries and a comparable amount for direct payments of up to $3,000 apiece to millions of families.

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

There had been some debate about whether all 430 House members, most of whom have been out of Washington since March 14, would have to return to consider the bill. That would have been difficult, given that at least two have tested positive for coronavirus, a handful of others are in self-quarantine and several states have issued stay-at-home orders.

There are five vacant House seats.

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U.S. Senate passes $2 trillion coronavirus relief bill

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Senate on Wednesday overwhelmingly backed a $2 trillion bill aimed at helping unemployed workers and industries hurt by the coronavirus epidemic, as well as providing billions of dollars to buy urgently needed medical equipment.

After bitter negotiations, the deeply divided Senate came together and passed the bill by a unanimous 96-0 vote, which sent the massive stimulus package to the House of Representatives, which could vote sometime this week.

President Donald Trump, whose top aides helped negotiate the bipartisan measure, promised to sign it into law as soon as it reaches his desk. “I will sign it immediately,” Trump told reporters on Wednesday.

The massive bill – which would be the largest economic stimulus measure ever passed by Congress – includes a $500 billion fund to help hard-hit industries and a comparable amount for direct payments of up to $3,000 apiece to millions of U.S. families.

The package is intended to flood the economy with cash in a bid to stem the impact of an intensifying epidemic that has killed more than 900 people in the United States and infected at least 60,000.

Only two other nations, China and Italy, have more coronavirus cases and the World Health Organization has warned the United States looks set to become the epicenter of the global coronavirus pandemic.

Top aides to Trump and senior senators from both parties announced that they had agreed on the unprecedented stimulus bill in the early hours of Wednesday after five days of talks.

But it was delayed by criticism from both the right and left on Wednesday, pushing the final vote on passage almost another full day.

Several Republican senators had insisted the bill needed to be changed to ensure that laid-off workers would not be paid more in unemployment benefits than they earned on the job. However, an amendment that would have changed the unemployment provision failed just before the Senate approved the measure.

(Interactive graphic tracking global spread of coronavirus: open tmsnrt.rs/3aIRuz7 in an external browser.)

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Tempers rise as U.S. Senate awaits vote on $2 trillion coronavirus bill

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Republican and Democratic leaders of the U.S. Senate hoped to vote on Wednesday on a $2 trillion emergency package to alleviate the devastating economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic, but found themselves fending off critics from the right and left who threatened to hold up the bill.

Top aides to Republican President Donald Trump and senior senators from both parties said they had agreed on the unprecedented stimulus bill in the early hours of Wednesday morning after five days of talks.

The massive bill includes a $500 billion fund to help hard-hit industries and a comparable amount for direct payments of up to $3,000 apiece to millions of U.S. families. It is intended to flood the economy with cash in a bid to stem the impact of a pandemic that has killed more than 900 people in the United States and infected at least 60,000.

Several Republican senators said the bill needed to be changed to ensure that laid-off workers would not be paid more than they earned on the job.

“This bill pays you more not to work than if you were working,” Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, a close Trump ally, told a news conference.

Democrats scoffed in response, noting that employees cannot collect unemployment if they leave their jobs voluntarily.

“Why would the senators hold up this really important bill … because they resent people at the low end of the spectrum who have lost their jobs, from getting $600?” House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi asked on CNN.

Related Coverage

  • Factbox: What's in the $2 trillion U.S. Senate coronavirus rescue package

Independent Senator Bernie Sanders, who is running for the Democratic presidential nomination, said he was prepared to block the bill if Republicans did not drop those objections.

The disputes clouded optimism that the bill could become law quickly. Administration officials said Trump would definitely sign it into law if it passed both the Republican-led Senate and Democratic-majority House.

“Today the Senate will act to help the people of this country weather this storm,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said.

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said his party was willing to pass the bill as quickly as possible.

“Help is on the way. Big help. Quick help,” he said.

It was unclear, however, how quickly the bill would get to Trump’s desk.

A vote had not been scheduled in the Senate by Wednesday evening. Pelosi said the House would give its members at least 24 hours’ notice before voting on the relief bill.

It was also not clear whether House members would have to return to Washington for the vote, although if members agreed, the bill could pass by a voice vote with very few of them in the House chamber.

BIGGEST BAILOUT

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

The rescue package would be the largest ever approved by Congress, and follows two others that became law earlier this month. The money at stake amounts to nearly half of the $4.7 trillion the U.S. government spends annually.

Investors were cheered by the news or the deal. On Wall Street, the benchmark S&P 500 .SPX rallied for a second straight day, closing up 1.15%.

Some high-profile opposition to the bill came from Schumer’s home state.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said the $3.8 billion allocated to his state would not cover the tax revenue it stands to lose from reduced economic activity. New York accounts for roughly half of all U.S. coronavirus cases.

“That is a drop in the bucket,” Cuomo said at a news conference.

Pelosi said she was sympathetic to Cuomo and other state officials, but wanted a rescue package to move on. “We (Congress) do have to do more, but that would be no reason to stop this step that we are taking,” Pelosi said on CNN, adding that she hoped the Federal Reserve would do more for states.

The governors of at least 18 states, including New York, have issued stay-at-home directives affecting about half the U.S. population. The sweeping orders are aimed at slowing the pathogen’s spread, but have upended daily life as schools and businesses shutter indefinitely.

(Interactive graphic tracking global spread of coronavirus: open tmsnrt.rs/3aIRuz7 in an external browser.)

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U.S. Senate close to passing $2 trillion in coronavirus aid, timing of vote unclear

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. senators will vote on Wednesday on a $2 trillion bipartisan package of legislation to alleviate the devastating economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic, hoping it will become law quickly.

Top aides to Republican President Donald Trump and senior Senate Republicans and Democrats said they had agreed on the unprecedented stimulus bill in the early hours of Wednesday after five days of marathon talks.

“Today the Senate will act to help the people of this country weather this storm,” Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said after the chamber convened at noon EDT (1600 GMT).

“This is not even a stimulus package,” he said. “It is emergency relief.”

Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said his party was willing to pass the bill as quickly as possible.

“Help is on the way. Big help. Quick help,” he said on the Senate floor.

Trump is ready to sign the measure into law, the White House said, but it was unclear how quickly Congress could get the package to his desk. McConnell did not say what time the Senate would hold its vote, and the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives is not expected to act before Thursday.

Related Coverage

  • No. 2 House Democrat pledges 24-hour notice before stimulus vote
  • Factbox: What's in the nearly $2 trillion U.S. Senate coronavirus stimulus?

A potential roadblock emerged in the early afternoon, as several Republican senators said the bill needed to be changed so that it would not pay laid-off workers more money than they earned on the job, calling the language a “drafting error.”

“This bill pays you more not to work than if you were working,” Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, a Trump ally, said at a news conference.

The massive bill includes a $500 billion fund to help hard-hit industries and a comparable amount for direct payments of up to $3,000 apiece to millions of U.S. families.

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

It would be the largest rescue package ever approved by Congress and the third such effort to be passed this month. The money at stake amounts to nearly half of the $4.7 trillion the U.S. government spends annually.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said the $3.8 billion allocated to his state would not cover the tax revenue it stands to lose from reduced economic activity. His state accounts for roughly half of all U.S. cases.

“That is a drop in the bucket,” he said at a news conference.

The package aims to flood the U.S. economy with cash in a bid to stem the impact of a pandemic that has killed more than 810 people in the United States and infected more than 59,200.

The governors of at least 18 states, including New York, have issued stay-at-home directives affecting about half the U.S. population. The sweeping orders are aimed at slowing the pathogen’s spread, but have upended daily life as schools and businesses shutter indefinitely.

Wall Street rose in choppy trading on Wednesday, building on the previous session’s gains, on hopes of quick congressional action.

The stimulus bill is expected to pass the Republican-led Senate easily, more so because Republican Senator Rand Paul, the only senator to vote against an earlier round of emergency virus funding, may be unable to vote after testing positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

It also must pass the Democratic-led House of Representatives. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who proposed a more far-reaching rescue package, did not say whether she would support the Senate version.

“We’ll see the bill and see how the Senate votes. So there’s no decision about timing until we see the bill,” she told reporters.

House members left Washington 10 days ago, but the lower chamber could quickly pass the bill without requiring them to return if all members agree to do so.

The No. 2 House Democrat, Steny Hoyer, told lawmakers that they would be notified 24 hours before any action.

If just one of the chamber’s 430 current members objects, that could require them to return to Washington to vote in person at a time when several members are self-quarantining. Any changes made by the House would also require Senate approval – leading to further delays.

The top House Republican, Kevin McCarthy, said he supported the bill and called for its quick passage.

(Interactive graphic tracking global spread of coronavirus: open tmsnrt.rs/3aIRuz7 in an external browser.)

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Pelosi sees 'real optimism' on $2 trillion U.S. coronavirus aid bill deal

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Democrats and Republicans said on Tuesday they were close to reaching a deal on a $2 trillion coronavirus economic stimulus package, raising hopes that the U.S. Congress could soon act to try to limit the economic fallout from the pandemic.

House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the top Democrat in Congress, said the two sides had agreed to more oversight provisions of a $500 billion fund to help hard-hit businesses, resolving a key sticking point.

“I think there is a real optimism that we could get something done in the next few hours,” Pelosi told CNBC.

Steven Mnuchin, President Donald Trump’s treasury secretary, said a deal could come later in the day as he returned to the Capitol for more talks on Tuesday morning.

“We’re looking forward to closing a bipartisan deal today. The president wants us to get this done today. We’re down to a small number of issues,” Mnuchin told reporters.

Democrats have twice blocked attempts to advance the bill, saying it did not provide enough money for states and hospitals, lacked sufficient aid for unemployed Americans and did not include adequate supervision of a massive fund to aid big businesses.

Those concerns appear to have been addressed.

“I’m very optimistic that there will be a deal announced this morning,” Democratic Senator Chris Coons said on MSNBC.

Wall Street jumped at the open on Tuesday as signs that Washington was nearing a deal on the rescue package gave a shot of optimism to markets reeling under the biggest selloff since the global financial crisis more than a decade ago.

Related Coverage

  • McConnell says lawmakers very close to a deal on coronavirus bill

Trump’s administration has launched a major push for action to try to blunt the economic impact of the pandemic and steep stock market decline, after he spent weeks dismissing the risks.

The Senate is due to convene at 10:00 a.m. ET (1400 GMT).

As talks concluded late on Monday, Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said the two sides were nearing an agreement and he expected that the legislation would be voted up on Tuesday.

Republicans, Democrats and top Trump aides had negotiated for days over the package, which would be the third and largest passed to address the crisis if it is backed by both the Republican-majority Senate and Democratic-majority House of Representatives.

“Congress must approve the deal, without all of the nonsense, today. The longer it takes, the harder it will be to start up our economy,” Trump wrote on Twitter on Tuesday.

To become law, the measure must be passed by the Democratic-led House and Republican-led Senate before being signed by Trump. Mnuchin said he had spoken with the Republican president at least 10 times during the marathon negotiating session on Monday.

The coronavirus pandemic has killed more than 550 people in the United States and sickened more than 43,800, shuttered thousands of businesses, thrown millions out of work and led state governors to order about 100 million people – nearly a third of the nation’s population – to stay at home.

Pelosi has introduced her own $2.5 trillion counterproposal that also includes $4 billion that would allow states to conduct the November presidential and congressional elections by mail.

That legislation would likely be irrelevant if a bipartisan deal is forged in the Senate.

While details of the emerging bipartisan bill were not available, it is expected to provide financial aid for Americans out of work because of the virus and help for struggling industries such as airlines.

Republicans normally hold a slim 53-47 majority in the Senate, meaning they need Democratic support to garner the 60 votes required to advance most legislation.

But the coronavirus has affected their ranks, giving Democrats even more leverage. Republican Senator Rand Paul has tested positive for coronavirus and four other Republicans are also unable to vote because they were exposed to Paul or others with the virus.

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U.S. Senator Toomey says Senate vote on aid package likely early next week: CNBC

(Reuters) – Republican U.S. Senator Pat Toomey told CNBC on Friday that a vote in the Senate on a coronavirus economic aid package is likely to take place early next week.

“It’s likely there will be a vote early next week”, Toomey said in an interview. “A vote on Monday, that’s the goal.”

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