Lawmakers reach agreement on COVID economic relief package

FAN Editor

Washington — Congressional leaders on Sunday reached a deal on a $900 billion COVID-19 economic relief package that includes $600 direct payments to Americans and $300 in enhanced unemployment for the next 10 weeks, House Speaker Nancy Speaker and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said.

The House voted Sunday night for a 24-hour extension so the government will remain funded, since the deadline to avoid a shutdown was 11:59 p.m.

The deal also includes $25 billion in direct rental assistance and extends the rental moratorium, $82 billion for education funding, $45 billion for public transit systems and $13 billion for increased food stamps and child nutrition benefits. There were also benefits for small business owners, including $12 billion for minority-owned or very small business, plus $15 billion for theater operators and small venue owners through Save our Stages Act.

In addition to economic relief, the deal also earmarks more than $30 billion to support the procurement and distribution of the coronavirus vaccine and $27 billion for testing and state health care programs.

Senator John Thune of South Dakota said the bill will allow businesses to deduct Paycheck Protection Program loans, a provision that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin had previously objected to. 

The $900 billion relief bill includes direct payments to taxpayers, expanded unemployment benefits and hundreds of billions of dollars in pandemic-related aid.

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

Congress passed a two-day extension of government funding that the president signed into law to avoid a government shutdown Friday night. That extension expires at midnight Sunday, meaning lawmakers would need to extend the deadline further if votes on the relief bill stretch into Monday. Leaders are hoping to combine the relief bill with the larger year-long $1.4 trillion spending package.

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

“I can tell you that, yes, we did narrow it,” Toomey said. “Because the Democrats made a fair point. That was too broad. And that might have captured facilities that we didn’t intend to capture, and so it was, yes, it was narrowed.”

Toomey also said he would support the final package: “Despite the significant reservations I have about some particular features, I think the good outweighs the bad and it is my intention, at this point, to vote for it.”

Schumer, the upper chamber’s top Democrat, said in a speech on the Senate floor on Sunday that “barring a major mishap,” Congress will vote “as early as tonight.”

“We have surmounted the final largest hurdle and an ending is in sight,” he said. “Let’s get the job done together for the sake of the American people.”

Lawmakers were working through the weekend to reach a deal on government funding measure and the relief bill before the Christmas holiday, with several key programs set to expire by the end of the year. 

Alan He contributed reporting.

Free America Network Articles

Leave a Reply

Next Post

After 9 months, Congress reaches COVID-19 compromise deal

Top congressional lawmakers announced a roughly $900 billion COVID-19 relief bill on Sunday, just hours ahead of a government shutdown deadline — a deal nearly nine months in the making. “Moments ago, the four leaders of the Senate and the House finalized an agreement. It will be another major rescue […]