The Senate has reached an agreement on a $2 trillion economic stimulus package that includes, among a number of provisions, direct payments to millions of Americans as well as loans available to small businesses and large corporations. WGBH Morning Edition host Joe Mathieu spoke with Rep. Jim McGovern, who chairs the House Rules Committee, about how the bill will move forward. The transcript below has been edited for clarity.

Joe Mathieu: So we're looking at the details of this plan here, and I know there were a lot of different ideas and a lot of debate — on-again, off-again negotiations with this plan. Will the House approve a similar measure?

Rep. Jim McGovern: Well, we're also going through it. The package kept on changing minute to minute to minute right up until the very end last night. There are things that we've been fighting for in the House. I need to see whether they're in the final package or not. But if it is a decent compromise, and what I mean by that is that I know I'm not going to get everything I want and Republicans know they're not going to get everything they want. But nonetheless, this is an emergency and I think it helps the country. And then I hope we can move it expeditiously, perhaps even by unanimous consent. I think that would be the quickest way to do it. But again, I think today's going to be a day where members of the House are going to be reading through the fine details of the bill.

Mathieu: I know one thing Democrats were pushing for was some independent oversight on how the billions of dollars would be spent as opposed to the president singularly, as he suggested at one point, overseeing that money going to industry. Are you happy with the way that worked out?

McGovern: Yeah. I think the inspector general has been charged with doing the oversight of anything the president decides to spend. There's some other checks and balances that are put in place. So I think Democrats have a minor victory on that. Here's the deal: the whole point of this package is to prevent a catastrophe with regard to our economy. What we're dealing with now is unprecedented. Our entire economy is shut down. And so we need to take extraordinary steps to try to help get people through this difficult time and small businesses in particular, so that when it ends, we can get back to as close to normal as possible. So I think this is not a perfect package, but I think — again, I'll conclude this after I read the entire bill — but I think it is something that is necessary given what we're faced with right now.

Mathieu: Of course, Congressman, we have a hotelier for a president and he has a number of massive properties that have been closed because of the whole coronavirus situation. Should Donald Trump's properties be bailed out?

McGovern: Well, I think there's some language in the bill, and I'm going to double check on this, that restricts bailouts to entities that benefit the president directly or members of Congress. Every sector of the economy is in trouble. And we just have to acknowledge that. So this package will hopefully help a diverse range of interests, again, to keep us in a situation where when this is over with, we can get the economy up and running again.

Mathieu: I'd like to ask you, Congressman McGovern, about remote voting. We're all working from home. I'm talking to you from my house this morning and that's been the situation, of course, for a lot of congressional offices trying to distance. Of course, there are some members of Congress who have been isolated. Is remote voting something that might become our reality?

McGovern: Well, I think it's something that we need to certainly look at, given what we're dealing with right now. But here's the problem. There were constitutional issues with remote voting, there are logistical and security issues. And I think what we need to figure out is how we can thread the needle to be able to deal with all those potential challenges. So Speaker Pelosi charged me with kind of coming up with some suggestions. I issued a report yesterday that lays out some possible ways that Congress can do business if some of us can't get here. But at the end of the day, members of Congress are going to have to figure out a way to work together because if not, we're just letting the White House do everything on its own.

And I'll be honest with you, I'm not comforted by not having checks and balances in place, especially with regard to how this president has handled himself. I watched his press conference yesterday and I wanted to pull that remaining two strands of hair I have on my head out of my head because he keeps on contradicting these scientists, the medical experts [and] the people who know what's going on here. We need to save lives. That should be our primary focus here. And the idea of prematurely reopening things up if we're not ready is a terrible, terrible idea. So I think we need to have a presence so that we can continue to check this president when he does things that we think are not in the interest of the American people.

Mathieu: Critics of the president say we're potentially getting bit on both ends here. They say that the president delayed in preparing for and addressing the response to this to begin with and now potentially reopening, as he says, the country on Easter Sunday could exacerbate these problems, no?

McGovern: Yeah, I think you're exactly right. The first case of coronavirus in United States was in January. It's March now, and we're desperately trying to find ventilators for our hospitals. We are trying to find protective masks for our doctors, nurses and first responders. But this is ridiculous. The president should invoke the law that allows us to get our companies and corporations around the country to actually start producing the stuff that we need. And we should have been prepared for this. He eliminated the pandemic office, which I think would have been helpful in sounding the alarm bells. We know that intelligence agencies warned him that this was going to get this bad. So we're playing catch up.

And I think the worst thing to do at this particular point, now that we're starting to move in a direction to try to contain this, is to prematurely end all the protection because that would just spread the virus even more and we'll have to start all over again. So we need competent leadership. I'm relieved that our governors are providing that competent leadership. We need to make sure that we get competent leadership out of Washington as well, and that is another reason why I think Congress needs to be vigilant as we move forward. We don't want to end the protective measures we're taking prematurely. That would be a disaster.

Mathieu: Is there anything that Congress can do? You mentioned checks and balances to weigh in on that, if President Trump orders some so-called reopening of the country. Could there be a legislative answer?

McGovern: Well, we could force him to implement the Defense Production Act, which would force our companies to start producing the equipment that we're now lacking, whether it's ventilators or protective gear for our first responders and our medical professionals. We're talking about potentially doing that right now because for some reason he's dragging his feet on that.

And I think we need to stand in solidarity with our governors. The states get it. Maybe because they're closer to the front lines, but I think Governor Cuomo has done an incredible job [and] I think Governor Baker has done a commendable job during this crisis. They get it. We need to make sure that the president doesn't send mixed signals and do something that endangers more and more people in this country.