Senate approves emergency relief bill—House votes next

The U.S. Senate late Wednesday voted 96-0 to approve the $2 trillion emergency relief bill aimed at overcoming the economic affects of the coronavirus pandemic.Oklahoma Sens. Jim Inhofe and James Lankford were among those who voted in support of the largest economic rescue package in U.S. history.”To all Oklahomans—our families, our students, our small businesses and health care providers—help is on the way,” said Sen. Inhofe in a statement from his office.

“For families struggling with economic uncertainty—we’re providing immediate relief. Oklahomans know how to weather a storm, but our legislation makes sure you are equipped to do so. It gives the average Oklahoma family of four $3,400 to help with immediate needs like rent, groceries and utilities. This legislation increases the maximum amount of unemployment benefits and extends coverage up to 39 weeks. Student loan interest and payments are halted until we get through the crisis.”

Sen. Lankford also commented after the vote.

“The Senate has taken action to meet the needs of Oklahomans and their families. Every aspect of our communities is being affected by this crisis, and it’s critical that Congress provide much-needed support and assistance in this unprecedented time of need,” said Lankford. “This bill is targeted at the heart of our Oklahoma economy—small businesses, the workers they employ, and the families they serve.

While the bill did not include any relief for the oil and gas industry, Sen. Lankford pointed out how he has pushed for US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross to investigate excessive dumping of oil by Russia and Saudi Arabia which has destabilized global oil markets. Spoke with Saudi leadership about the current energy crisis.

Under the package, which has yet to be voted on in the U.S. House, checks to more than 150 million American households will be sent. It will also set up large loan programs for businesses large and small, pump billions into unemployment insurance programs and increase spending on hospitals.

The Senate’s most liberal and conservative members joined together to support the mammoth spending bill, illustrating how concerned policymakers have become about the health care strains and financial pain the country now faces.

The Senate vote sends the bill to the House, where Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) announced a vote to approve it Friday morning. President Trump said he intends to sign it immediately.

Oklahoma Rep. Frank Lucas immediately responded to the Senate vote with a statement.

“Today, the Senate took additional steps to ensure American workers, families, and business owners no longer have to tackle this economic crisis alone. I applaud my colleagues in the U.S. Senate for passing this bold piece of legislation that will deliver much-needed relief to the American people,” said Congressman Lucas.

Rep. Tom Cole offered his thanks to the Senate.

“Without losing any more precious time, I am hopeful that the House can move quickly on the heels of the Senate’s vote, get this vital relief package sent to President Trump’s desk to be signed into law and delivered to the American people.”

“Our nation obviously is going through a kind of crisis that is totally unprecedented in living memory,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said ahead of the vote, after which the chamber intends to recess until April 20 unless urgent legislative action is needed before then.

Source: Washington Post