Coronavirus: US Senate passes $2tn disaster aid bill

The largest government economic stimulus in US history is approved, despite a last-minute row.

The US Senate has passed a $2tn (£1.7tn) coronavirus disaster aid bill that is the largest economic stimulus in US history.

The vote was delayed by a last-minute row between Republican and Democratic senators over unemployment benefits.

The plan includes direct payments of $1,200 to most American adults and aid to help small businesses pay workers.

US coronavirus deaths are around the 1,000 mark and there have been nearly 70,000 confirmed infections.

More than 21,000 people with coronavirus have died across the world since it emerged in China's Wuhan province in December, while the number of infections is racing towards half a million 

Southern Europe is now the centre of the pandemic, with Italy and Spain recording hundreds of new deaths every day.

What was the snag in Congress?

President Donald Trump, a Republican, said on Wednesday he would sign the fast-tracked bill as soon as it reached his desk.

But the plan hit a speed bump as Republican senators Tim Scott, Rick Scott, Ben Sasse and Lindsey Graham said its major expansion of unemployment benefits provided "a strong incentive for employees to be laid off instead of going to work".

They said they would oppose the bill unless it was fixed to ensure workers could not have a higher income while unemployed than in a job.

Senator Bernie Sanders, who is running for the Democratic presidential nomination, said he would oppose the bill unless the Republicans dropped their objections.

He also demanded tougher conditions on the legislation's "corporate welfare".

In the end the Republican senators were allowed a vote on their amendment, which failed.

The bill does have cross-party support but it must still be passed in votes in the Senate and House of Representatives before the president signs it into law.

With revisions being made to the bill late into Wednesday, the Republican-majority Senate finally, and unanimously, approved it with a 96-0 vote. It now moves on to the House which is expected to vote on Friday.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he was "proud" that not a single senator voted against the bill.

The chamber's senior Democrat, Senator Chuck Schumer, said: "And so this is a good ending, twists and turns were enormous. I always had faith we would [pass this bill] because America and the American people demanded it."

What do we know about the deal?

The agreement reached by Republican and Democratic leaders in the Senate includes tax rebates, loans, money for hospitals and rescue packages.

Though the nearly 900-page bill's price tag amounts to roughly half the size of the US government's annual budget, little has emerged of its finer details.

 

Individuals who earn $75,000 or less would get direct payments of $1,200 each. Married couples with household income of up to $150,000 would receive $2,400 and an additional $500 per each child.

Mr McConnell described the package as a "wartime level of investment" in the US nation.

The Democratic speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, said she hoped the bill could be passed by voice vote.

That would allow members of Congress - several of whom have coronavirus or are self-isolating - to stay away from the chamber in order to cast their votes.

But if any member objected, lawmakers would be asked to return to Washington and vote over the course of an entire day, in order to limit how many people are present on the House floor at one time.

What's the latest from the virus hotspot of New York?

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Wednesday it is likely half of America's most populous city of more than eight million would catch coronavirus by the time the pandemic ran its course.

By Wednesday morning, 199 New Yorkers had died from the disease and confirmed cases had reached 17,856.

According to the New York Times, 13 patients died in a matter of hours on Tuesday at a hospital in the Queens borough of the city, with a young doctor there describing "apocalyptic" scenes.

But there were signs of hope.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo spoke on Wednesday of tentative indications that the spread of the disease may be slowing.

On Sunday, hospital admissions were doubling every two days. But by Monday that rate had fallen to every 3.4 days, and on Tuesday every 4.7 days, Mr Cuomo said.

The whole of New York state had 285 coronavirus deaths and more than 30,800 patients as of Wednesday morning - about half of the total US caseload. 

What is the situation elsewhere in the US?

The US Federal Emergency Management Agency said New York, North Carolina and Hawaii had requested special mortuary teams to be ready for mass casualties.

New Orleans, Louisiana, where crowds celebrated Mardi Gras last month, has recorded the world's highest growth rate in coronavirus cases.

California's Governor Gavin Newsom said one million Californians had registered as unemployed just this month.

The US is more than midway through a 15-day attempt to slow the spread of the virus through social distancing.

Two more states - Minnesota and Idaho - issued state-wide "stay at home" orders on Wednesday, joining at least 17 others.

The president said on Tuesday that reopening the country by Easter would be a "beautiful timeline".

But Dr Anthony Fauci, the infectious disease expert who is helping lead the US response to coronavirus, told CNN on Wednesday: "The virus makes the timeline." BBC

 
 

Other News

.
FDI businesses cry out for help as COVID-19 exerts impact
FDI businesses cry out for help as COVID-19 exerts impact
BUSINESSicon  30/03/2020 

Many foreign direct investment (FDI) businesses are taking the full brunt of the novel coronavirus outbreak (COVID-19) and they are in dire need of support from the government to weather the storm.

Workers face salary cuts as firms fight to survive amid COVID-19
Workers face salary cuts as firms fight to survive amid COVID-19
BUSINESSicon  30/03/2020 

Many businesses have been forced to give workers time off work, especially at weekends due to reduced demand caused by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

Mekong Delta shrimp prices fall as COVID-19 hits demand
Mekong Delta shrimp prices fall as COVID-19 hits demand
BUSINESSicon  29/03/2020 

Shrimp prices have plummeted in the Mekong Delta since global demand has been hit severely by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Association calls for consistent tax incentives for social housing developers
Association calls for consistent tax incentives for social housing developers
BUSINESSicon  29/03/2020 

Tax incentives for developers of social housing projects for lease should be made clear and consistent to encourage private investment in the segment, according to the HCM City Real Estate Association.

Petrol prices see sharp fall of up to 4,252 VND per litre
Petrol prices see sharp fall of up to 4,252 VND per litre
BUSINESSicon  29/03/2020 

The retail prices of petrol plummeted from 3pm of March 29, making it the sixth consecutive reduction since the beginning of this year.

COVID-19: Bamboo Airways restricts domestic, charter flights
COVID-19: Bamboo Airways restricts domestic, charter flights
BUSINESSicon  29/03/2020 

Bamboo Airways, Vietnam’s newest airline, has announced it will reduce the frequency of domestic flights amid the critical time of COVID-19 fight as directed by the Government and Ministry of Transport.

HCM City property developers offer more products
HCM City property developers offer more products
BUSINESSicon  29/03/2020 

The HCM City real estate market provides more housing projects and subsidises rentals to boost the market amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mekong Delta rice farmers earn high income from rice straw
Mekong Delta rice farmers earn high income from rice straw
BUSINESSicon  29/03/2020 

Rice farmers in the Mekong Delta are earning higher incomes from selling rice straw left over from the harvested 2019 – 20 winter-spring rice crop.

Ministry proposes 843 million USD bailout package for businesses during COVID-19
Ministry proposes 843 million USD bailout package for businesses during COVID-19
BUSINESSicon  29/03/2020 

The Ministry of Labour, Invalid and Social Affairs has proposed the Government issue a 20 trillion VND (843 million USD) bailout package to soften the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

No end to woes of local textile and garment industry
No end to woes of local textile and garment industry
BUSINESSicon  28/03/2020 

While the supply of raw materials from China is recovering after a month of suspension, textile and garment businesses find that they have moved out of the frying pan into the fire as the COVID-19 pandemic

Vietnam's first-quarter GDP growth hits decade low
Vietnam's first-quarter GDP growth hits decade low
BUSINESSicon  28/03/2020 

Vietnam’s gross domestic product (GDP) in the first quarter of 2020 grew 3.82 percent, the lowest pace during the 2011-2020 period, head of the General Statistics Office Nguyen Bich Lam said on March 27.

Potential of eco property during COVID-19  ​
Potential of eco property during COVID-19 ​
BUSINESSicon  28/03/2020 

Ecological real estate is considered a safe investment channel amid the pandemic, meeting the demand for green living space and ensuring health safety for dwellers.

Vietnam enjoys trade surplus of $2.8 billion in first quarter
Vietnam enjoys trade surplus of $2.8 billion in first quarter
BUSINESSicon  28/03/2020 

Vietnam ran a trade surplus of $2.8 billion in the first quarter of this year, higher than 1.5 billion USD recorded in the same period last year, despite the growing COVID-19 pandemic in the country’s major export markets.

Automakers propose Gov’t cut VAT and registration fee for customers
Automakers propose Gov’t cut VAT and registration fee for customers
BUSINESSicon  28/03/2020 

Vietnam Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (VAMA) has proposed the Government reduce value-added tax (VAT) and registration fees for car customers by 50 percent, reports VietNamNet.

Vietnam gains higher exports to Canada, Mexico partly due to CPTPP
Vietnam gains higher exports to Canada, Mexico partly due to CPTPP
BUSINESSicon  28/03/2020 

Vietnam has taken full advantage of the CPTPP to gain strong growth in exports to Canada and Mexico, according to the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT).

Farm produce sales fall, but rice exports soar
Farm produce sales fall, but rice exports soar
BUSINESSicon  30/03/2020 

While many agricultural and aquatic products remain unsold because of decreased demand during Covid-19, rice sales have been satisfactory.

Covid-19 wipes out $44 billion from Vietnam’s stock market
Covid-19 wipes out $44 billion from Vietnam’s stock market
BUSINESSicon  30/03/2020 

As the covid-19 epidemic has been escalating, the market capitalization value has been sliding. Market losses have reached $44 billion.

Oil & gas sector bears double effects from Covid-19, oil price plunges
Oil & gas sector bears double effects from Covid-19, oil price plunges
BUSINESSicon  30/03/2020 

With the oil price falling to $30-35 per barrel, the national oil and gas corporation PetroVietnam will lose $3 billion in revenue in 2020.

Pandemic has no impact on plastic firm
Pandemic has no impact on plastic firm
BUSINESSicon  27/03/2020 

The global spread of COVID-19 has had an insignificant impact on An Phat Bioplastics JSC’s performance in the first three months, shareholders were told on March 25.

Payment deadline extension proposed for over $3 bln in taxes
Payment deadline extension proposed for over $3 bln in taxes
BUSINESSicon  27/03/2020 

The Ministry of Finance has proposed the payment deadlines for $3.4 billion in taxes be extended to support enterprises, business households and individuals doing business that are directly affected by COVID-19 pandemic.

 
 
 
Leave your comment on an article

OR QUICK LOGIN