WASHINGTON — The Senate on Wednesday moved toward a vote on a sweeping, roughly $2 trillion measure to respond to the coronavirus pandemic, after Democrats and Republicans reached a deal with the Trump administration on direct payments and jobless benefits for individuals, money for states and a huge bailout fund for businesses.
The legislation, which is expected to be enacted within days, is the biggest fiscal stimulus package in modern American history, aimed at delivering support to companies forced to shut their doors, relief to Americans suffering layoffs and financial ruin, and critical aid to hospitals on the front lines of the rapidly spreading disease.
The compromise was a package whose sheer size and scope would have been unthinkable only a couple of weeks ago. It touched virtually every aspect of American life, and amounted to hundreds of billions of dollars more than Congress provides for the entire United States federal budget for a single year, outside of social safety net programs. Administration officials said they hoped that its effect on a battered economy would be exponentially greater, as much as $4 trillion.
“This is not a moment of celebration, but one of necessity,” Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the minority leader, said as he outlined the changes his party had secured in the legislation. “To all Americans I say, ‘Help is on the way.’”