Senator Joni Ernst.

The largest emergency aid package in U.S. history, worth two-point-two trillion dollars, unanimously passed the U.S. Senate last night.

Iowa Senator Joni Ernst says the Senate “stepped up in this time of crisis and delivered critical relief.” The package is dubbed the CARES Act, for Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security. Ernst, a Republican from Red Oak, says it includes $1,200 checks for individuals.

“Secretary (of the Treasury Steven) Mnuchin was very adamant about making sure that Americans are seeing relief as soon as possible,” Ernst says. “To get those checks out, direct assistance from the federal government, we want to see those checks going out in a matter of weeks, not months.”

In addition to the individual checks, the package includes $130 billion to hospitals and $367 billion in loans and grants to businesses. The U.S. House is expected to take up the measure on Friday. “By getting the bill passed and signed into law by the president, that’s just the first step,” Ernst says. “We have a lot of agencies that will be working with the additional monies and additional requirements on programs. They will have to bear that burden as we move forward.”

Ernst is urging House members to quickly approve the measure so the massive and complicated process of sending out hundreds of billions of dollars can begin to jump-start the economy in the midst of the pandemic. She says it will be an enormous undertaking involving multiple federal departments.

“We are going to be working very hard with those agencies to make sure that Americans are seeing relief as soon as possible,” Ernst says. “I don’t want to be a ‘Debbie Downer,’ I want to be very optimistic. I know they are working as hard as they can to get those dollars out the door once the package is signed, but Americans need to understand, relief is on the way.”

Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley issued a statement last night:

“This health crisis is quickly becoming an economic crisis. This bipartisan legislation rapidly delivers recovery checks to help individuals and families cover their immediate expenses. It also helps businesses of all sizes keep employees on the payroll throughout the crisis and ensures that those who are furloughed or laid off have access to beefed-up unemployment insurance. The bill also provides a much-needed infusion of cash to our health care professionals who are fighting the pandemic on the front lines.”