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House to vote Friday on $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief bill, Pelosi says

House to vote Friday on $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief bill, Pelosi says
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi speaks to reporters at the U.S. Capitol on Thursday. She said she expects the chamber to quickly pass the Senate's coronavirus relief bill on Friday. Photo by Tasos Katopodis/UPI | License Photo

March 26 (UPI) -- The House will vote Friday on the Senate's $2.2 trillion relief package aimed at mitigating the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak, Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday.

The Senate unanimously passed the bill by a 96-0 vote late Wednesday. Pelosi told reporters at the U.S. Capitol she expects the House will quickly pass the measure.

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"I feel certain that we will have a strong bipartisan vote," said Pelosi, who marked her 80th birthday on Thursday.

She added, though, that she will seek some changes.

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"We will go to the floor for this legislation, but as I have said, there are so many things we didn't get to in any of these bills yet in the way that we need to."

The package would ultimately go to President Donald Trump, who has said he'll sign it. The measure is the third, and by the far the largest, coronavirus relief bill Congress has considered. Lawmakers passed an $8.3 billion measure earlier this month and a $100 billion bill to increase paid sick leave last week.

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Among the changes Democrats might seek include more funding for food stamps, free treatment and testing for COVID-19 and more money for state and local governments struggling to contain the outbreak.

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On Wednesday night, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell hailed the passage as a "proud moment of the United States Senate and for the country" and said, "We're going to win this battle in the very near future."

The Kentucky Republican described the package as a "rescue bill to save American individuals, small businesses, large businesses" that will provide "considerable funding for healthcare workers and the scientists and doctors."

Under the legislation -- the largest the Senate has ever passed -- Americans who earn up to $75,000 will receive checks for $1,200, and those with children will receive $500 for each child. It also creates a small business loan program, a fund for industries and a fund for states and localities whose coffers have been depleted. It also expands unemployment insurance to four months and includes money for hospitals, nursing homes and other healthcare facilities.

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Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said a bill of this size was needed to confront "a historic crisis."

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"There are millions of Americans watching out right now at home on their televisions, separated from friends and family, fearful for their children and their livelihood, unsure when the time will come when all of our lives may return to normal," he said. "Let us tell them tonight that help is on the way."

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin negotiated the bill on behalf of the White House.

"This is going to be enormous help for the American workers in the American economy," he said.

The bill's passing follows five days of negotiations between senators of both parties and the White House. Introduced Thursday by McConnell, the bill quickly stalled as Democrats twice declined to sign off on it, saying it focused too much on helping big corporations while doing too little for workers. Another issue the Democrats fought for was oversight of loans given to corporations.

U.S. copes with COVID-19 pandemic

Bass Pro Shops marketing manager David Smith (R) carries a box of donated face masks into Mercy Health in Chesterfield, Mo., on May 13. The company is donating 1 million FDA-approved ASTM Level 1 Procedure Face Masks to healthcare workers and first responders working on the front lines of the pandemic. Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI | License Photo

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