Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, just hours after announcing a deal on a $2 trillion economic relief package, joined ABC's "The View" on Wednesday, celebrating the gains he said Democrats made in the joint stimulus deal.
"This is a very good bill. We’ve gotten a lot of things in, none of which were in the bill Republicans put on the floor on Sunday," Schumer said. "We came together, we passed it, we improved it."
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The agreement on the joint deal comes five days after intense negotiations between Senate Democrats and Republicans, and the White House. Schumer and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced that a deal had been struck -- aimed to provide economic relief to offset the impacts of the novel coronavirus -- in the early morning hours on Wednesday.
"We improved it," Schumer said. "It's not everything everyone wants, but it's a great start, and we'll keep at it."
This bill contains in it, among other things, direct funding for hospitals and medical first responders, expanded unemployment insurance for workers laid off or furloughed due to the COVID-19 closures, direct payments of $1,200 to American workers making a salary under $75,000 and scaled back appropriations for workers making up to $99,000. It also includes some relief for small businesses and loans for larger key industries.
Schumer outlined what he said are five gains by Democrats within the stimulus package, spearheaded during the negotiations between senators on both sides of the aisle.
The gains include: increased funding going directly to hospitals and medical workers, enhancements to the length of time that a worker laid off due to coronavirus can receive unemployment benefits, oversight for corporations receiving loans, money given for small businesses, and support given to states and localities.
Negotiations between the two parties and the White House seemed to hit a stall on Sunday when McConnell called a procedural vote on the bill -- which the Senate Democrats voted against. Schumer, during his remarks on Sunday, said the bill -- as drafted on Sunday -- still had "too many problems" in it, pointing to language that Schumer said failed to protect workers and provide appropriate oversight to big businesses.
"After five days of arduous negotiations, after sleep-deprived nights and marathon negotiations -- we have a bipartisan agreement on the largest rescue package in American history," Schumer said on the Senate floor early Wednesday morning.
It took until Wednesday to clear the impasse.
One of sticking points that held Democrats back from supporting the initial bill was language that would allow the U.S. Treasury to issue loans to big businesses without publicly disclosing those loans for up to six months.
According to Schumer, Democrats succeeded in requiring disclosure of these loans in 7-14 days, and also created a provision that would bar companies owned by elected officials, including President Donald Trump and members of Congress, from receiving loans.
"We've written a very strong provision not just for Trump, but certainly for him, but for any powerful official," Schumer told the hosts. "A cabinet, a senator, a congressman. If they own a business or their family owns a business, they should not get these loans."
He added, "The people in office should not write legislation that benefits them."
Trump suggested on Tuesday that some Americans could return to work as early as Easter, against the guidance of most medical professionals. Schumer seemed skeptical of this idea.
"Number one, this kind of advice should come from health care professionals, not politicians, they know things best," Schumer said. "And second, I would remind the president and everyone else, the best way to get the economy going again is to beat this virus, and we should be doing everything we can right now to beat this virus."
Schumer also encouraged Americans to stay in touch during this time of isolation.
"Just because you’re isolated, stay in touch, email, talk to people, be on the phone set up chat rooms," he said. "Those kinds of things can deal with a little bit of the isolation that we feel."
What to know about coronavirus:
- How it started and how to protect yourself: coronavirus explained
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- Tracking the spread in the US and Worldwide: coronavirus map
An exact timing on a vote for the bill has not yet been announced by the Senate.
The bill will then travel to the House side where Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has said House Democrats will "review the final provisions and legislative text of the agreement to determine a course of action."