Coronavirus: U.S. Senate trudges towards vote on $2 trillion aid package

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The Senate scrambled to unravel last-minute snags Wednesday night and win passage of an unparalleled US$2 trillion economic rescue package steering aid to businesses, workers and health care systems engulfed by the coronavirus pandemic.

The 883-page measure is the largest economic relief bill in U.S. history, and both parties’ leaders were desperate for quick passage as the virus took lives and jobs by the hour. The Senate stayed in session in anticipation of still passing the bill after days of delays.

Insistently optimistic, U.S. President Donald Trump said of the greatest public-health emergency in anyone’s lifetime, “I don’t think its going to end up being such a rough patch” and anticipated the economy soaring “like a rocket ship” when it’s over. Yet he implored Congress late in the day to move on critical aid without further delay.

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The package is intended as relief for an economy spiraling into recession or worse and a nation facing a grim toll from an infection that’s killed nearly 20,000 people worldwide. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, asked how long the aid would keep the economy afloat, said: “We’ve anticipated three months. Hopefully, we won’t need this for three months.”

Underscoring the effort’s sheer magnitude, the bill finances a response with a price tag that equals half the size of the entire US$4 trillion annual federal budget.

Other objections floated in from New York Gov.

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