President Trump on Friday signed a sweeping $2 trillion measure to respond to the coronavirus pandemic, but not before a late objection from a lone rank-and-file Republican forced hundreds of lawmakers to rush back to the capital even as the virus continued to spread through their ranks.
The move by Representative Thomas Massie, Republican of Kentucky, accomplished an extraordinary feat, uniting President Trump and John Kerry, the former Democratic secretary of state and presidential candidate, in a bipartisan moment of outrage against a lawmaker who wanted to force the whole House to take a formal roll-call vote.
House Democrats and Republicans teamed up to bring just enough lawmakers back to the Capitol to thwart Mr. Massie’s tactic, and the measure passed on a voice vote. It was a resounding show of support for a bill that lawmakers in both parties said was imperfect, but essential to address a national public health and economic crisis.
“I want to thank Democrats and Republicans for coming together and putting America first,” Mr. Trump said on Friday as he signed the legislation in the Oval Office.
The measure is unparalleled in its scope and size, touching on every aspect of the country in an effort to send help to desperate Americans, provide aid to hospitals combating the disease, and bolster an economy forced to slow or shut down altogether to minimize the spread of the pandemic.
In weeks, it will send direct payments of $1,200 to individuals earning up to $75,000, with smaller payments to those with incomes of up to $99,000 and an additional $500 per child. It will substantially expand jobless aid, providing an additional 13 weeks and a four-month enhancement of benefits — including an extra $600 per week — and extend it to freelancers and gig workers. The package also suspends all federal student loan payments for six months through September, and the loans will not accrue interest during that period.
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