President Trump signs historic CARES Act

President Donald Trump signs the coronavirus stimulus relief package, in the Oval Office at the White House, Friday, March 27, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

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UPDATED 5:18 PM PT — Friday, March 27, 2020

President Trump signed the $2 trillion economic stimulus package on Friday after it cleared both the House and Senate this week.

“I just signed the CARES Act, the single biggest economic relief package in American History,” stated the president. “At $2.2 trillion, this bill will deliver urgently-needed relief for our nation’s families, workers, and businesses.”

He thanked lawmakers on both sides of the aisle for coming together to support citizens across the U.S. during the national emergency.

“I want to thank Republicans and Democrats for coming together, setting aside their differences and putting America first. This legislation provides for direct payments to individuals and unprecedented support to small businesses. We’re going to keep our small businesses strong and our big businesses strong. That’s keeping our country strong and our jobs strong.”

– Donald Trump, 45th President of the United States

The act will expand unemployment benefits, provide immediate help for health care providers and other businesses, and will include a onetime payment to the majority of Americans.

President Donald Trump finishes signing the coronavirus stimulus relief package in the Oval Office at the White House, Friday, March 27, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

However, the bill’s passage was nearly derailed. Congressman Thomas Massie (R.-Ky.) tried to derail passage of the bill by asking for a recorded vote, but the chair ruled there was a quorum present and struck down the motion.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security, or CARES Act, passed the upper chamber of Congress in a unanimous 96-to-zero vote on Wednesday.

“I’m proud to announce tonight not a single senator voted against this $2 trillion rescue bill to save American individuals, small businesses, larger businesses and to provide considerable funding for the health care workers and the scientists and the doctors and others who are trying to solve this pandemic,” stated Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

The bill came on the heels of several days of around-the-clock negotiations between Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and Senate leaders of both parties. Once an agreement was reached, the bill was put to a vote in only 20 hours.

The CARES Act mobilizes an unprecedented amount of funds, estimated at $2.2 trillion, to the purpose of revitalizing the economy and shoring up the financial stability of American individuals and businesses. By contrast, the stimulus plan deployed against the 2008 recession cost $700 billion.

It includes a one-time payment to most Americans. Individuals earning less than $75,000 a year are set to receive $1,200 and couples earning less than $150,000 a year will receive $2,400 plus $500 added on per child.  The payments gradually decrease for individuals above those income level and phase out to zero for individuals earning more than $99,000 a year or $198,000 for couples.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif. accompanied by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of Calif., right, speaks before signing the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act after it passed in the House on Capitol Hill, Friday, March 27, 2020, in Washington. The $2.2 trillion package will head to head to President Donald Trump for his signature. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

The bill will also create a pool of $350 billion for loans to small businesses to cover employee salaries, benefits and prevent lay-offs. It increases unemployment benefits by $600 a week for up to four months, which will be added on top of current benefits granted by individual states.

The measure will also provide an extra $117 billion in funding for hospitals and veterans’ health care. The bill has been celebrated almost universally among major elements of government in both parties.

Sen. McConnell, for his part, touted the level of investment the bill represents by drawing an analogy to previous war efforts and sounding a note of resolve in the fight against the pandemic.

“In effect, this is a wartime level of investment into our nation,” he stated. “The men and women of the greatest country on Earth are going to defeat this coronavirus and reclaim our future.”

President Trump previously promised to sign the bill immediately once it reached his desk.

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