White House, Congress agree on $2 trillion virus rescue bill

The White House and Senate leaders of both parties announced agreement early Wednesday on an unprecedented $2 trillion emergency bill, according to a report from the Associated Press. The bill is intended to rush sweeping aid to businesses, workers and health carec.

The measure is the largest economic rescue bill in history.

“To the American people, we say, big help, quick help is on the way,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said Wednesday morning on CNN.

Schumer said he expected approval by the Republican-led Senate later in the day.

The next step would be final congressional approval by the Democratic-controlled House.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said the bipartisan agreement “takes us a long way down the road in meeting the needs of the American people,” but she stopped short of fully endorsing it.

Because House members are scattered around the country, timetable for votes in that chamber are unclear.

The sprawling, 500 page-plus measure is the third coronavirus response bill produced by Congress and by far the largest.

It would give direct payments to most Americans, expand unemployment benefits and provide a $367 billion program for small businesses to keep making payroll while workers are forced to stay home.

“After days of intense discussions, the Senate has reached a bipartisan agreement on a historic relief package for this pandemic,” said Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., a key negotiator. “It will rush new resources onto the front lines of our nation’s health care fight. And it will inject trillions of dollars of cash into the economy as fast as possible to help Americans workers, families, small businesses and industries make it through this disruption and emerge on the other side ready to soar.”