Published: Mon, March 23, 2020
Health Care | By Cedric Leonard

Coronavirus Aid Bill In Limbo After Procedural Vote Fails

Coronavirus Aid Bill In Limbo After Procedural Vote Fails

With the coronavirus pandemic in the United States intensifying, Senate Democrats and Republicans will scramble on Monday to come to an agreement on a far-reaching $1 trillion-plus coronavirus stimulus package after a procedural vote to advance the measure failed and left the massive relief effort in legislative limbo.

They argued the proposed aid package favored corporations over workers and health care providers, sending Republicans back to the negotiating table.

US stock futures smashed into "limit down" trading curbs in their first hour of trading Sunday night after Democrat pushed back against economic rescue measures on Capitol Hill.

The bill is Congress' third effort to blunt the economic toll of a disease that has killed at least 400 people in the United States and sickened more than 33,000, leading governors to order almost a third of the nation's population to stay at home and putting much business activity on hold.

Top Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer expressed optimism about a deal late Saturday, but by Sunday he was more sober, saying no Democrats has supported the bill as drafted because it had "many, many problems".

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) blasted Democrats' obstruction in a fiery Senate floor speech.

Kentucky Republican Rand Paul announced Sunday afternoon that he tested positive for coronavirus, causing a handful of other GOP senators to self-isolate over fears they contracted the virus.

USA stock index futures were down early on Monday over fears of economic damage from the growing scale of lockdowns aimed at containing the pandemic, with the Dow down 3.64 per cent, the S&P down 3.39 per cent and the Nasdaq down 2.79 per cent.

Earlier Sunday, Schumer said that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Democrats would put their own bill forward. "So I'd be surprised if they didn't and if they don't, I think frankly the American people will be very upset with the Democrats because the Republicans are ready to approve a deal".

Emirates to Suspend All Passenger Operations From March 25
Gulf countries have imposed various restrictions to combat the spread of the virus, particularly in the air transport sector. Monday's announcement came hours after Dubai carrier Emirates announced it would suspend all passenger flights by March 25.

"It is better", he said, but hospitals were still receiving "just a fraction" of what they had requested.

President Donald Trump and congressional leaders hoped the measure would send a signal that would help stabilize the stock market and USA economy amid fears of recession as economic analysts estimate unemployment levels could hit up to an unprecedented 30% in April-June with GDP contracting by 50%, figures not seen since the Great Depression. "The only reason a deal couldn't get done is pure politics".

Together, the urgent measures represented one of the most dramatic governmental rescue efforts outside wartime, with millions of people thrown out of work, thousands of businesses shuttered, travel severely curtailed and no certainty as to when things might improve.

Neither will Republican Senators Mike Lee and Mitt Romney, who both said they were in quarantine after exposure to Paul.

Trump said he had activated the National Guard in the three states hardest hit by the outbreak: California, New York and Washington.

"President Trump neglected, minimised, and lied about this virus", Mr Biden said in a statement. "Use the full extent of your authorities, now, to ensure that we are producing all essential goods and delivering them".

Mnuchin told "Fox News Sunday" the package would include loans for small businesses, direct deposits that could give an average family of four $3,000, and up to $4 trillion in liquidity for the U.S. Federal Reserve to help businesses get through the next 90 to 120 days.

Many Democrats objected to Republicans' plan to provide $500 billion for the Treasury secretary to make loans, loan guarantees or investments to support businesses, possibly along with states or municipalities. And there would be an additional $350 billion in loan guarantees for small businesses in order to help them avoid layoffs, and many of those loans could be forgiven if firms meet certain metrics.

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