The number of coronavirus cases in the US is now greater than in any other country. Here in MD, we now have 774 confirmed cases of COVID-19. In the Capital Region, Baltimore, DC and Virginia, the number of cases has quadrupled since last week.
As we went on the air today, the House was set to vote on the $2 trillion dollar economic relief package. (The bill was passed by the House in an overwhelming voice vote shortly after this broadcast; the President signed it into law a few hours later.) Many lawmakers had scrambled to return to Washington from their homes across the country in case a roll call vote were made necessary by objections from one or two members. No roll call vote was eventually required. The Senate had passed the package in the wee hours of Wednesday morning by a vote of 96-0.
The bill calls for unprecedented amounts of federal spending, equal to roughly half of the total federal budget. And while the final version of the Senate bill was vastly different from the first draft that the upper chamber considered, there are things that are in it, and things that are not in it, that are a source of dissatisfaction on both sides of the aisle.
But for people who have suddenly, and stunningly, been laid off from jobs that seemed completely secure at the beginning of the month, little matters other than whether or not they are going to be able to stay in their homes, and feed themselves and their families.
For insight into what the mammoth aid package will provide -- and what it won't -- for families and businesses in Maryland and across the nation, Tom turns to his first guest today: Senator Chris Van Hollen, Maryland's junior senator, who joins us on the line from his home in Kensington, Maryland.