W.Va. lawmakers react to stimulus package

Congressional leaders and the White House reached a deal on a massive Coronavirus relief...
Congressional leaders and the White House reached a deal on a massive Coronavirus relief package early Wednesday morning.(WSAZ)
Published: Mar. 25, 2020 at 3:59 PM EDT
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Early Wednesday, the White House and Senate leaders announced they had reached a bipartisan deal to approve a $2 trillion stimulus package to boost businesses, workers, private individuals and families hit hard by the novel coronavirus economic impacts

"The whole thing about the curve was this, if the demand for the services exceeds the ability to serve that's where your problem is and that's what we've got to prevent," said Sen. Joe Manchin (D). "When you look at other countries that were able to control that were able to do that to stay ahead of the curve."

This discussion comes as businesses around the country have closed their doors, workers have faced reduced hours or lay-offs, many schools and higher education institutions have called off in-person education for the academic year, and many hospital systems are being squeezed by a sudden influx of COVID-19 patients

"In this bill we've got a lot more, billions of dollars to help our VA's," said Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R). "A lot of our facilities are old. That also is a challenge for isolation, for infection control, for sanitation purposes so this money is going to go out quickly to help our veterans. I'm sure that the guard will be coming into the VA to help them figure out what kind of community testing needs to be done."

This is the largest proposed economic rescue bill in US history, according to the Associated Press

The Senate deal on the table offers about $500 billion for distressed companies, an approximate $350 billion for small business loans & an estimated $250 billion for individuals and families

People earning up to $75,000 a year would be eligible to receive $1,200 from the federal government, while married couples earning up to $150,000 a year in combined income would be eligible to receive $2,400. For each child, there’s an additional $500.

The package includes expanding unemployment benefits, support for health care institutions, and a $367 billion program for small businesses to keep making payroll while employees are forced to stay home.

"I hope every West Virginian heeds the call from the health professionals from Washington to West Virginia," said Sen. Manchin. "Stay in, don't go out. Stay at home. Please stay at home. There's someone in your family healthy enough to do your shopping for you with whatever essentials your need. Work in that atmosphere. if you're in a neighborhood and you don't have any support, call. There's phones to call that you will be able to get you the support that you need."

The coronavirus thus far has had the most severe outbreak in large cities along the coasts, with a high impact on New York, Washington state, and California

Senate leaders announced a vote would be expected imminently, but Speaker Pelosi’s office says they still need to review the final language

AP: one of the last issues Senators debated was $500 billion for guaranteed, subsidized loans to larger industries, including a fight over how generous to be with the airlines. Hospitals would get significant hep as well.

House members are largely at home in their Congressional districts, and it’s unclear whether they will be called back to vote on the deal, or whether a voice vote can send the package on the President Donald Trump’s desk for approval

This is the third and largest coronavirus response bill being taken up by the US Congress and by the Trump administration

Earlier efforts focused on vaccines and emergency response, sick and family medical leave for workers, and nutrition assistance

The rescue package is larger than the 2008 bank bailout and the 2009 recovery act combined, according to the AP

The White House coronavirus task force leaders say while there is no known cure for this virus, researchers are investigating different anti-viral treatment options. The President has touted anecdotal cases of anti-malarial drugs to be used effectively ‘off-label’ for compassionate use of coronavirus patients. Dr. Anthony Fauci, who serves on the task force and is the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has been more cautious in the prospects of hydrochloroquine and chloroquine. He emphasizes that a number of drugs are close to being used in clinical trials, and the possibility of a vaccine to be rolled out down the road.