McConnell unveils economic rescue plan amid virus shutdown

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The Washington Monument and the U.S. Capitol are seen in Washington, at sunrise Wednesday, March 18, 2020. The White House has sent Congress an emergency $46 billion spending request for coronavirus-related funding this year. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell unveiled a sweeping economic rescue plan Thursday to pump $1,200 direct checks to taxpayers, $300 billion for small businesses to keep idled workers on payroll and $208 billion in loans to airlines and other industries.

It's the initial Republican offer on the biggest legislative package yet to respond to the coronavirus outbreak.

The GOP leader's effort builds on President Donald Trump's request for Congress to “go big” as lawmakers race to craft a $1 trillion economic aid and stimulus package amid the pandemic crisis and nationwide shutdown that's hurtling the country toward a likely recession.

“We need to take bold and swift action as soon as possible,” McConnell, announcing his plan on the Senate floor.

The 247-page McConnell CARES Act puts the leader's imprint on an opening talks with Democrats in Congress as lawmakers prepare to fast-track perhaps the most urgent legislative undertaking since the 2008 financial crisis. Negotiations start Friday.

Despite the enormous pressure on Washington to act, the talks ahead are certain to run into challenges. Democrats said the plan does not go far enough and some Republicans object to its provisions. Negotiations could push into the weekend.

"On first reading, it is not at all pro-worker and instead puts corporations way ahead of workers,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said in a joint statement.

The GOP leader's plan aims to shore up households, businesses and the healthcare industry, which is bracing for an expected onslaught of patients falling ill from the virus that causes COVID-19.