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White House seeks $850B economic stimulus amid virus crisis

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House is proposing a roughly $850 billion economic rescue package Tuesday amid the coronavirus outbreak, a sweeping stimulus for businesses and taxpayers amid unseen since the Great Recession of 2008.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin planned to outline the package to Senate Republicans at a private lunch, with officials aiming to have Congress approve it this week.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, opening the Senate on Tuesday morning, promised swift action.

“The Senate will not adjourn until we have passed significant and bold new steps above and beyond what the House has passed to help our strong nation and our strong underlying economy weather this storm,” McConnell said.

Bigger than the 2008 bank bailout or the 2009 recovery act, the White House proposal aims to provide relief for small businesses, $50 billion for the airline industry and include a massive tax cut for wage-earners.

Two people familiar with the request described it to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to speak publicly.

The White House hopes the measure will pass quickly, possibly this week, an enormous political undertaking as the administration scrambled to contain the economic fallout of the severe disruptions to American life from the outbreak.

White House officials offered senators a preliminary briefing late Monday at the Capitol, saying they want the plan approved by Congress as soon as possible, suggesting in a matter of days.

“ASAP,” White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said late Monday. “There’s an urgency.”

The rush to inject cash and resources into the economy is an effort unlike any since the 2008 economic crisis, with political and economic interventions and eye-popping sums to try to protect Americans from the health and financial fallout.

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