Washington DC. – Congress tonight ended the process of massive legislation integrating the funds to boost the economy and address the health emergency triggered by the coronavirus pandemic, with final budget allocations for the federal fiscal year 2021.
After being approved in the lower house shortly before, the legislation was ratified by the Senate (91-7), which now sent it for signature by President Donald Trump.
The project that aims to stimulate the economy and the pandemic of the coronavirus – which has caused the deaths of more than 319,000 people in the United States – allocates $ 900,000 million.
These funds were integrated into a budget bus that allocates an additional $ 1.4 billion (trillions) that the federal government will eventually fund.
In the lower house, the legislative package was divided into two votes.
For voting purposes, the measure to mitigate the effects of the coronavirus – which received 359 votes in favor and 53 against – was considered along with 8 of the 12 budget projects for fiscal year 2021. Of the 53 votes to 50 were Republicans, two Democrats and one independent . A congressman voted “present”.
The four Puerto Rican Democratic congressmen – José Serrano, Nydia Velázquez, Darren Soto and Alexandria Ocasio Cortez – voted in favor of the part of the bill that included the economic stimulus and eight of the 12 budget bills.
The legislative package – which spans more than 5,500 pages and the text of which was not announced until Monday afternoon – is due to be signed by President Trump shortly to avoid partial office closures ahead of Tuesday’s formal operations in the federal government.
The current budget decision will expire at midnight on Monday.
The Economic Incentive Act includes a check for the vast majority of citizens of at least $ 600, federal assistance of $ 300 per week from late December to mid-March, another round of the Small Business Payroll Protection Program (PPP), funds for distribution of the vaccine, food aid and to assist with the payment of rents
After months of grappling with the Republicans and two bills with $ 3.4 billion and $ 2.2 billion credits that never entered the Senate, speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic Minority Leader Charles Schumer (New York) defended after a few months ago, having rejected a $ 1.8 trillion project suggested by Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin.
They indicated that this legislation included a check to citizens, housing and food aid that Republicans would not accept, and ruled out efforts by Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Kentucky) to grant federal immunity to companies reopening midway through. of the pandemic.
“We can take on a short-term project because for the duration of that moratorium, we have a new president to possibly extend it even further. We also have direct payments to working families in the legislation, which were not in the Republican bill. I would have liked the instant payments to be larger, but they are important and will be shipped soon “, Said Speaker Pelosi.
McConnell said the level of credits is ultimately closer to what he had been proposing since the end of the summer, after refusing for several months to reflect on lower house legislation that allocated direct resources to the finances of the national and local authorities. .
“We are going to pass a new major bailout bill to help American families during this pandemic,” said the Republican senator.
Congressman Velázquez, chair of the Small Business Committee, said that while she condemns Republicans for withholding a much more elaborate bill, such as the one approved by Democrats in the lower house in May and October, the new legislation “ will provide much-needed relief to U.S. people until we can pass a stronger stimulus under Biden’s government. “
Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin thinks they can start handing out the checks next week.
While it is the second most comprehensive bill to stimulate the economy – after the $ 2.2 trillion Cares Act – elected President Joe Biden has indicated that another measure will be needed in early 2021.
The measure allows citizens with incomes up to $ 75,000 to receive a check for $ 600. The amount of the check is gradually reduced until it disappears if the person had an income of $ 87,000 or more in 2019.
In the case of couples, the check is $ 1,200 for those with an income up to $ 150,000, and it is zero when they reach an income of $ 174,000. An additional $ 600 can be received for each dependent child.
The $ 300 per week supplemental federal unemployment assistance may begin next week and run through March 14.
With regard to small businesses, the measure awards $ 324,000 million. Most of those funds go to a new round of the Small Business Payroll Protection Loan Program (PPP), which allows for loans of up to $ 150,000 to be forgiven under certain conditions.
According to preliminary agreements, the PPP loans would be available to companies with 300 or fewer employees. Non-profit organizations and local press, radio and television media will have access to the PPP program.
As part of the economic stimulus project, the Puerto Rico government is to receive more than $ 500 million in food resources, in addition to more than $ 300 million to help low-income families affected by the pandemic pay rent for their homes.
Among other things, the legislation also allocates $ 20 billion to the Advanced Biomedical Research and Development Authority (BARDA) for the purchase of COVID-19 vaccines and drugs, and $ 82 billion for education systems, of which $ 22,700 for institutions. higher education.
The project, in turn, proposes $ 2 billion in aid, managed by state governments, to help families with their funeral expenses related to COVID-19.
Under the budgetary allocations, the measure allows $ 1,375 million for the construction of the wall on the border with Mexico.
The budget bus also authorizes the creation of the Latino Museum, as part of the Smithsonian Institution’s structure.
With today’s votes, they may have closed the work of the federal lower house during this session. But Democratic Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (Maryland) has warned that if President Trump honors his promise to veto the defense spending authorization project, they will meet on Dec. possible decision. from the outgoing president of the United States.