Congress Reaches Deal on Nearly $1 Trillion Covid-19 Relief Bill
Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said House and Senate leaders have reached an agreement on a long-awaited Covid-19 relief bill.
On Sunday evening, just hours ahead of a government shutdown deadline, McConnell made the announcement about the more than $900 billion deal on the Senate floor, finally telling the American people, “More help is on the way.”
“Moments ago, the four leaders of the Senate and the House finalized an agreement. It will be another major rescue package for the American people,” McConnell said. “For the information of all Senators and more importantly for the American people, we can finally report what our nation has needed to hear for a very long time: more help is on the way.”
According to the AP, the deal will include temporary $300 per week in unemployment benefits lasting for 10 weeks and $600 direct stimulus payments to most Americans. There will also be money allocated to businesses hurt by the pandemic, schools, health care providers, and Americans facing eviction. The stimulus payments and additional unemployment benefits are at half the level of the original CARES Act from March that provided $1,200 stimulus payments and $600 extra per week to those on unemployment.
“It is packed with targeted policies to help struggling Americans who have already waited too long,” McConnell said.
According to ABC News, the House will take up the bill on Monday, before going back to the Senate for a final vote.
The bill provides $82 billion for schools, colleges and universities; $25 billion in rental assistance; $15 billion for live entertainment venues and theaters; $13 billion in increased SNAP and child nutrition benefits; as well as $10 billion for child care. And will provide $319 billion for small businesses — which includes $284 billion for Paycheck Protection Program loans.
In addition, the bill includes funding for the government through September 2021, which the AP says would also give $1.4 billion toward the U.S.-Mexico border wall — which Congress needed to include to ensure Trump would sign the bill.
Negotiations on the package have been ongoing for months, requiring lawmakers to scramble to complete the deal before recessing for the holidays.
Democratic Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer spoke about the agreement being “good news” but made clear that the Democrats wanted more help to go to those who are struggling in unprecedented times.
“After a long and arduous year, after a year full of bad news, finally we have some good news for the American people,” Schumer said. “Make no mistake about it. This agreement is far from perfect, but it will deliver emergency relief to a nation in the throes of a genuine emergency.”
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