Congress Passes 5,593-page COVID Relief and Government Funding Bill; measure is now heading to the White House


Washington – Both houses of Congress passed a $ 900 billion relief package on Monday evening designed to provide long-awaited aid to Americans, small businesses and industries suffering from the coronavirus pandemic. The $ 900 billion package is paired with a $ 1.4 trillion omnibus spending bill that funds the federal government through September.

The House of Representatives vote was split into two parts. the first part, which included defense; Commerce, Justice, Science; Internal security; and the Financial Services sections of the omnibus, passed by a vote of 327 to 85. The second part included eight spending bills – including the COVID relief bill – and passed by a margin of 359 to 53.

The measures were then consolidated and sent to the Senate, where the legislation was passed 92 to 6. The bill now goes to the White House for the president’s signature to become law.

After months of fruitless negotiations, leaders of Congress made a deal on the coronavirus measure on Sunday, ending the months-long standoff between Republicans and Democrats that has delayed aid to those hardest hit by the public health crisis that has devastated the U.S. economy.

“We will do good with this legislation, but we must recognize that more needs to be done to crush the virus, to put more money in the pockets of the American people,” Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said on Monday. , adding that she expected a “strong bipartisan vote” on the bailout deal.

the legislative text The 5,593-page big package was released shortly before 2 p.m. and lawmakers braced for a long night as they worked to pass the measure days before Christmas. Help package included $ 600 in direct payments to most Americans, $ 300 a week in enhanced federal unemployment benefits through March 14, and more than $ 284 billion in business loans under the popular Paycheck Protection Program. The relief measure also extends the moratorium on evictions until January 31 and provides for more than $ 30 billion to speed up the distribution of vaccines against the coronavirus.

The government spending deal also included a provision ending surprise medical billing, an issue with bipartisan support, and establishing a women’s history museum and the National Museum of the Latin American.

The $ 600 checks are half as generous as the $ 1,200 payments distributed under the CARES Act in the spring. Americans who earned less than $ 75,000 in 2019 are eligible for the full $ 600, with payouts declining for those who earned up to $ 100,000, according to a summary of the legislation released by lawmakers and published by The Washington Post. Parents will also receive $ 600 per dependent child, an increase from the $ 500 granted under the CARES Act.

Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin told CNBC Americans could start seeing payments in their bank accounts as early as next week.

“It’s a very, very quick way to inject money into the economy,” Mnuchin said Monday morning. “Let me stress: people are going to see this money early next week. “

Democratic and Republican leaders in Congress expressed optimism on Sunday that the combined measures would be quickly approved by both houses of Congress. Pelosi called the deal a “first step” and predicted that more relief will come once President-elect Joe Biden and Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris take office in January.

Mr. Biden took to Twitter shortly after the bill was approved, saying, “I applaud this back-up plan, but our work is far from over. Starting in the new year, Congress will need to immediately get down to work in support of our COVID-19 plan. My message to all of you those who are struggling now: Help is on the way. “

The House and Senate last approved a sweeping aid package to tackle the economic devastation caused by the pandemic in March, though the two chambers later presented their own separate measures, which were unsuccessful. to garner enough bipartisan support to be adopted. The White House and Pelosi have spent the intervening months engaged in fruitless negotiations on another measure, although they disagree on the size and scope of the package.

Republicans were pushing for the next bill to include corporate liability protections, while Democrats wanted billions of dollars in federal aid for state and local governments that have suffered a financial blow from the pandemic . Ultimately, no priorities were included in the targeted measure agreed to by congressional leaders.

Faced with the end of the year which is fast approaching for many major COVID relief programs, as well as a government funding deadline, the four Congressional leaders – Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy – reunited last week to strike a deal to fund the government and provide aid to those struggling with the pandemic.

Talks collapsed after GOP Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania proposed language to restrict the Federal Reserve‘s emergency lending authority, but he ultimately agreed to restrict the language to apply only three loan facilities established by the CARES law, the vast relief program adopted in March.

To avoid an interruption in overall government funding, Congress approved three-time interim financing measures that gave congressional leaders more time to finalize a deal and avoid a partial government shutdown. The continuing second resolution, which extended government funding until Monday, was approved by both houses in a rare weekend session and signed by President Trump on Sunday night. Yet another, extending funding until Monday, December 28, was signed by Mr. Trump early Tuesday.

Kimberly Brown and Jordan Freiman contributed to this report.


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