Congress passes new stimulus bill

WASHINGTON, D.C. – House members voted to approve a nearly half-a-trillion-dollar emergency aid package as new unemployment numbers highlight the economic devastation of the coronavirus crisis.

The funding deal was hammered out earlier this week and President Trump has already said he’ll sign off on it.

But House members still had to travel to Washington to vote in person, entering the capitol with some jarring signs of the times.

It was a sobering sight on the House floor Thursday with lawmakers in masks and gloves, rotating through in groups to vote on nearly $500 billion in emergency aid.

The latest coronavirus relief bill includes more than $300 billion to replenish the small business Paycheck Protection Program plus $75 billion for hospitals and $25 billion for testing.

The lifeline from Washington coming as new unemployment numbers out today show another gut punch to the economy. 4.4 million Americans filed first-time jobless claims last week, bringing the five-week total to more than 26 million new claims since the crisis began.

The latest funding bill does not include money for cash-strapped state and local governments that are fighting the virus and fighting to pay their employees at the same time.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he’s in favor of letting states file for bankruptcy protection.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo declared the bankruptcy idea politically-motivated and reckless. “You want to see that market fall through the cellar?  Let New York State declare bankruptcy.”

A worrying prognosis for the health of the economy was made more uncertain by fears coronavirus will come back in a second wave later this year.

There’s already talk of the next funding bill that the White House says could include money for infrastructure and a payroll tax cut.

Democrats are pushing hard for money for states and other priorities like rent assistance.

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