WASHINGTON – Congress is close to striking a deal on a sweeping federal response to the worsening coronavirus crisis that includes direct payments to Americans, far-reaching financial help for small businesses and a lifeline to airlines considered crucial to the nation's recovery.
The centerpiece would be one-time checks of $1,200 or more to individuals, a jolt of household capital that lawmakers hope will boost consumer confidence and give the tumbling stock market a reason for optimism.
It would also help states grappling with a pandemic that's left a death toll of more than 600 – and climbing – and compensate restaurants, mom-and-pop stores and other Main Street retailers that have had to close their doors or have seen their customers disappear as a result.
"I believe we are on the 5-yard line," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said on the Senate floor Tuesday. "We are very close."
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi touted the "real optimism that we could get something done," on CNBC.
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The anticipation of a breakthrough followed days of rancorous negotiations between Republicans eager to help businesses survive the free-falling economy with Democrats pushing for provisions to ensure that help for companies goes to keeping workers on the payroll rather than executive compensation or stock buybacks. One member of the Federal Reserve's board predicts the crisis could lead to a 30% unemployment rate.
Congress is expected to pass the bill by the end of this week and President Donald Trump has indicated he will sign it. Markets surged on the news, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average rising 2,113 points or more than 11%, – the largest point gain ever in a single day.
At roughly $2 trillion, the measure would be – by far – the largest economic package ever approved by Washington. It's more than half the size of the $3.5 trillion the federal government expects to collect in taxes this year.
Details still were being fleshed out late Tuesday but the broad outlines were taking shape:
Families: Payments for individuals and families to help them with immediate expenses as they recover from layoffs or reduced work hours.
Airlines: Financial help, likely in the form of loans and loan guarantees that would help them weather an economic shutdown that has kept most Americans grounded.
Workers: Expanded unemployment insurance coverage designed as a temporary bridge until companies start re-hiring workers, potentially during the summer.
Small Businesses: Loans and, possibly, grants to a number of retailers, such as hair salons, toy stores and florists, that had to close because states deemed them "non-essential." Others that could stay open, such as restaurants and pharmacies, suffered large losses as well.
Large employers: Financial relief for department stores, factories and other businesses with large workforces that saw sales plummet.
States: Grants to states who have been on the front lines of the crisis, including public health agencies, first responders and public schools.
Laid out: Congress' $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus package, visualized
Hospitals: More than $100 billion to help doctors, nurses and medical centers process and treat the tens of thousands of coronavirus cases that are expected to rise exponentially in the coming weeks.
Students: A reprieve from immediately having to repay federal student loans as well as help for colleges to keep operating on-line classes.
The package would represent the third recovery package Congress has moved on this month.
Earlier this month, lawmakers approved $8.3 billion bill to expand testing, develop treatments and vaccines, and help federal, state, and local public health agencies to respond to the coronavirus.
On March 18, President Donald Trump signed $100 billion legislation covering the cost of coronavirus testing for individuals, providing two weeks of paid sick leave for workers at companies with 500 or fewer employees, and expanding federal nutrition assistance, for low-income families.
Lawmakers already are discussing further rounds of stimulus for priorities they weren't able to tuck into this one.
Trump has discussed his desire for a payroll tax holiday, for example, while democrats want to bail out the U.S. Postal Service, increase climate change rules and require businesses who receive federal aid from the crisis to institute a minimum wage of $15 per hour.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Trump, Congress close to deal on $2 trillion economic rescue package for coronavirus