Congress leaders reach an agreement on the COVID economic aid package

Congress leaders reached an agreement on Sunday on a $ 900 billion COVID-19 economic aid package, which includes direct payments of $ 600 to Americans and $ 300 in increased unemployment for the next 10 weeks.

Checks of $ 600 will be given to people earning less than $ 75,000 a year or to couples earning less than $ 150,000. Similar to the CARES Act, the size of the payment will decrease for people earning between $ 75,000 and $ 100,000, and people earning $ 100,000 or more will not receive checks.

Addicts will receive $ 600 this time, rather than $ 500.

The House and Senate both passed an ongoing resolution Sunday night to extend federal government funding for an additional day, as the deadline to avoid closure was 11:59 p.m. to a $ 1.4 trillion spending bill to fund the government by September. President Trump signed the extension into law late Sunday night.

The COVID exemption agreement also includes $ 25 billion in direct rental assistance and extends the eviction moratorium to January 31, the same day the moratorium on student loan payments ends. Democrats say that once President-elect Biden is in office, he will be able to unilaterally extend the evacuation moratorium, if he wishes.

Funding for other programs included $ 82 billion to fund education, $ 45 billion to public transportation systems, and $ 13 billion to increase food stamps and nutritional benefits for children. There were also benefits for small business owners, including $ 12 billion for minority or very small businesses, plus $ 15 billion for theater operators and small business owners through the Save our Stages Act.

In addition to the economic exemption, the agreement also allocates more than $ 30 billion to support the purchase and distribution of coronavirus vaccine and $ 27 billion for testing and state health care programs.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer pointed out that Democrats have succeeded in removing a clause that protects employers from litigation.

Sen. John Thune of South Dakota said the bill would allow companies to deduct loans from the wage protection program, a provision that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin had previously objected to.

At a news conference Sunday, Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi stressed that because of the future Biden administration, he hopes more legislative relief will come in the future, even if Democrats do not reach a Senate majority.

President-elect Joe Biden “will be able to focus the attention of the American people on a Senate, on Republican members of the Senate, that hinders, hinders what they need,” Schumer said.

The House and Senate met on Sunday afternoon and could vote on a package of aid and funding by the end of the day. House Leader Steny Hoyer told members to expect votes later that day and possibly “late in the evening.”

Congress passed a two-day extension of government funding that the president signed to avoid closing the government on Friday night. This extension expired at midnight on Sunday, which means that parliamentarians must extend the deadline further if the votes on the draft aid law are extended until Monday. Lawmakers are combining the $ 1.4 trillion larger year-round aid bill.

An aide to Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey and a Democratic adviser confirmed late Saturday that the two sides had reached an agreement on language in Toomey’s proposal. Toomey said in a conference call on Sunday that he had agreed to restrict the language to apply only to the three loan facilities established by the CARES Act.

“I can tell you, yes, I narrowed it down,” Toomey said. “Because the Democrats supported a correct point. This was too broad. And that could have captured facilities that we didn’t intend to capture, and so it was, yes, it was restricted.”

Toomey also said he would support the final package: “Despite my significant reservations about some particular characteristics, I believe that good is greater than evil, and my intention at this time is to vote for it.”

Schumer, the top Democrat in the upper house, said in a Senate speech Sunday that “except for one major accident,” Congress will vote “tonight.”

“We have overcome the biggest final obstacle and we see an end,” he said. “Let’s do the job together for the sake of the American people.”

Lawmakers worked throughout the weekend to reach an agreement on government funding measures and the aid bill before the Christmas holidays, with some key programs set to expire by the end of the year.

Nancy Cordes and Alan He contributed to the reporting.

First published on December 20, 2020 / 10:04

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