WASHINGTON -- The Senate returned Wednesday with plans to vote on a $2 trillion economic stimulus package -- the largest in U.S. history -- designed to pump money directly into Americans' pockets while also shoring up hospitals, businesses and state and local governments struggling against the coronavirus pandemic.
Despite announcing a deal around 1 a.m. Eastern time Wednesday, final legislative text, including many details of how the money will be spent, was not available by the afternoon.
The Senate vote has not yet been scheduled, but the bill is expected to pass there with large bipartisan support after five days of tense, marathon negotiations between congressional Democrats and the White House and Senate Republicans. President Donald Trump indicated Tuesday night that he favored the bill, but he has not explicitly endorsed it.
The real test will be whether the House accepts the massive bill as it is, and can pass it with "unanimous consent," a procedure usually reserved for small, noncontroversial bills. If a single member comes to the House floor and objects, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., may have to recall House members to Washington for a vote that would inevitably draw out the process.
Democratic and Republican House leaders are hoping to avoid that, but it remains to be seen if they can. A House vote is unlikely before Thursday.
Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan, an independent who left the Republican Party last year, called the package a "raw deal for the people" in a tweet shortly after it was announced, but clarified later in the day that he will not delay the bill by objecting to unanimous consent.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said Wednesday he supports holding a voice vote, which would ensure House members don't have to return if they don't want to for health or safety reasons. A voice vote is generally determined by which side is the loudest, as determined by the member presiding over the House at the time. But the losing side often asks for a recorded vote, which would require Pelosi to recall House members from across the country.
"I do not believe we should pass a $2 trillion bill by unanimous consent," McCarthy said.
Several House Democrats were also unhappy with the bill Wednesday, saying it helps business at the expense of people. Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib tweeted that she is angry the Senate bill doesn't help people whose water was shut off for lack of payment during the outbreak.
The $2 trillion price tag is equal to more than half the $3.5 trillion the federal government expects to collect in taxes this year. The package touches on major aspects of American life.