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After five days of frenzied, behind-the-scenes wrangling, the Senate late Wednesday passed a nearly $2 trillion economic rescue package intended to help American workers, corporations and small businesses survive the coronavirus pandemic’s economic fallout. 

With much of the global economy essentially shut down to slow the spread of coronavirus, millions are in dire financial straits and economic analysts are warning of a prolonged recession. 

In Arizona, the widespread shutdown of businesses, both voluntary and government directed, triggered an estimated 30,000 people to file for jobless benefits in the state for the first time.

It is unclear what effect the legislation — the largest in U.S. history and the third bill passed in reaction to the spread of COVID-19 — will have. Already, talks are taking place about the need for a fourth stimulus package. 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said late Wednesday the chamber's next scheduled vote is April 20. Circumstances could cause them to be summoned back to Washington, D.C., sooner, he warned. 

The Republican-controlled Senate passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act on a 96-0 vote after days of partisan feuding. 

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., and Sen. Martha McSally, R-Ariz., voted in favor of the legislation. The vote on Wednesday came after Sinema and fellow Democrats twice voted to block action in an effort to secure concessions. 

President Donald Trump was eager for the legislation’s passage and has signaled he will immediately sign it.

The measure provides a one-time direct payment of up to $1,200 to individuals, $2,400 to married couples, and $500 per child. 

Those earning up to $75,000 are eligible for $1,200 and those earning more will receive a percentage of the $1,200 depending on how much they earn. Calculations are based on the most-recent tax filing.

Americans should start seeing the checks within the next several weeks.

As a public service, The Arizona Republic is offering all coverage of the pandemic free of charge. Support The Republic by subscribing to azcentral.com.

The act also creates a $500 billion fund to lend money to financially distressed corporations, airlines, businesses to maintain national security, and others. 

That fund emerged as a flashpoint in negotiations. Democrats assailed Republicans’ initial proposal that would have given the Treasury Department broad discretion over who got the funding. Republicans’ early language allowed the department to keep secret the identities of those who received the money, and how much, for up to half a year.

The negotiated bill gives oversight of the fund to an inspector general and an oversight board, ensuring transparency — a big win for Democrats.

The measure also provides an estimated $130 billion for hospitals, physicians, nurses and health care workers on the front lines of responding to the pandemic, to help ensure they have adequate personal protective equipment, beds and other resources. 

The act massively increases federal support to expand unemployment insurance temporarily: For four months, Arizonans will be able to apply for $600 in addition to their current unemployment benefits. 

For small businesses, the measure creates a $350 billion loan program that would convert into grants if they retain their employees. And states and local and tribal governments will receive $150 billion in coronavirus aid. 

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Ahead of the vote, Sinema wrote on Twitter she was “extremely disappointed in those who played partisanship” over the package. In times of crisis, she wrote, “it’s dangerous.”

While negotiations were underway, both Democrats and Republicans were blaming the other side for the impasse. The Democrat-controlled House of Representatives is expected to take up the legislation by the end of the week. 

Sinema was among those who twice voted in recent days to block action on the stimulus package, in hopes of extracting more money that Arizona would not have otherwise received. She citedincreased money for health care workers, states and local governments, the boost in unemployment insurance, and federal oversight of the $500 billion fund to help industries. 

"Today’s bipartisan agreement will immediately shore-up Arizona hospitals and health care workers on the frontlines, support everyday families and individuals out of work, and assist employers affected by temporary closures," Sinema wrote in a statement. "I’ll continue working closely with local Arizona communities to ensure these resources go where they are needed while assisting Arizonans with individual casework needs."

In a floor speech on Tuesday, as negotiators worked to break an impasse on the legislation, McSally lambasted Democrats for holding up the bill and pushing their “ideological wish list.” 

“We are at war,” McSally, a retired Air Force combat pilot, said. “And unlike the enemies I fought in uniform, this enemy is invisible. But it’s just as deadly.”

She shared stories of economic suffering by those she frequently encounters: a neighbor who runs a food truck, an airport shoe shiner, and a pet groomer. 

McSally said those workers and small businesses need to be rescued, hospitals need resources and families need to pay their bills. 

“These are real people who are suffering real harm from this pandemic,” McSally said. “Relief must be delivered posthaste.”

McSally's office said her work with fellow senators helped ensure relief for airports in Phoenix and Tucson, an employee retention tax credit provision that will allow businesses to retain their workforce during the crisis, money intended to help tribal communities respond to the pandemic, and other provisions.

“Arizona, relief is finally on the way," McSally said in a written statement after voting. "... America and Arizona will prevail against this invisible enemy, but we need to ensure Arizonans and their small businesses can hit the ground running once this crisis is over. This sorely needed $2 trillion support and relief package is urgent and the House must pass it right away.”

Have news to share about Arizona's U.S. senators or national politics? Reach the reporter on Twitter and Facebook. Contact her at yvonne.wingett@arizonarepublic.com and 602-444-4712.

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