White House, Senate reach $2 trillion deal on coronavirus relief package
Updated 17:30, 25-Mar-2020


The White House and U.S. Senate leaders early Wednesday reached a deal on a massive relief package worth two trillion U.S. dollars to curb the coronavirus pandemic, according to local media reports.

This came after four straight days of intense negotiations since Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell introduced the Republican proposal Thursday evening in an effort to mitigate economic challenges faced by the U.S. due to the ongoing outbreak. 

"At last, we have a deal. After days of intense discussions, the Senate has reached a bipartisan agreement on a historic relief package for this pandemic," McConnell announced from the Senate floor, citing the massive "wartime level of investment" into the nation.

The Senate and House of Representatives still need to pass the legislation before sending it to U.S. President Donald Trump for his signature. 

Once passed, the spending package will be the third round of emergency legislation that Congress has approved to combat the outbreak. Trump signed the first two bills into law and is also expected to sign the third bill. 

U.S. Treasury Secretary Mnuchin said Trump will "absolutely" sign the coronavirus stimulus bill if it is passed by both Senate and House.

Although the full text of the bill is not yet known, lawmakers indicated on Tuesday that the Republican's initial proposal for direct cash payments would be included.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on CNBC on Tuesday morning that there was "real optimism" that a piece of legislation that is "much more worker-oriented" than McConnell's original proposal would be agreed upon.

Details expected in the bill:

- Direct payments to people: About 250 billion U.S. dollars in direct payments to people. Those who made up to 75,000 U.S. dollars based on 2018 tax returns are eligible to receive checks of 1,200 U.S. dollars. Couples who made up to 150,000 U.S. dollars are eligible to receive 2,400 U.S. dollars with an additional 500 U.S. dollars per child.  

- Aid to hospitals and businesses: Roughly 100 billion U.S. dollars are expected to assist hospitals; 350 billion U.S. dollars to assist small businesses; and 500 billion U.S. dollars in aid for corporations, such as airline companies and cruise lines.

- Aid to state and local governments: 150 billion U.S. dollars are expected in coronavirus stimulus bill to aid state and local governments.

- Additional unemployment insurance: Some 250 billion U.S. dollars for expanding unemployment insurance.

Global markets rally on the U.S. rescue package

All three main U.S. stock indexes rebounded strongly on Tuesday. The Dow Jones Industrial Average surged 11.37 percent to end at 20,704.91 points, the S&P 500 soared 9.38 percent to 2,447.33, and the Nasdaq Composite rose 8.12 percent to 7,417.86.

Shares across Europe also rose on Wednesday with the pan-European STOXX 600 index up 2.1 percent.

As for the UK stock market, the blue-chip FTSE 100 gained 1.4 percent and FTSE 250 up 2.3 percent on Wednesday. The FTSE 100 saw its best day on Tuesday since the 2008 financial crisis.

Asian markets also climbed with Japan's benchmark Nikkei jumped eight percent on Wednesday, its best daily gain since 2008. China's benchmark Shanghai Composite Index rose 2.17 percent to close at 2,781.59 points, while the Shenzhen Component Index up 3.22 percent higher at 10,241.08 points.

Hong Kong stocks rose for a second session on Wednesday. The Hang Seng index rose 3.8 percent at 23,527.19, hitting its highest level since March 16. The Hang Seng China Enterprises index also up 3.8 percent.