Coronavirus stimulus update: Congress agrees to $900 billion relief bill
The relief plan includes direct payments of $600 to most adults and $600 per child, Pelosi and Schumer said in a statement.
The Democrats said it would put $284 billion into Paycheck Protection Program small business loans. It would direct another $20 billion to small business grants and $15 billion to live event venues.
It would also add a $300 federal unemployment supplement and temporarily keep in place pandemic-era programs that expanded unemployment insurance eligibility. It was not immediately clear how long each of those measures would last.
If the jobless benefits expansion expires the day after Christmas, 12 million people will lose unemployment insurance.
The measure was also set to put critical funding into the distribution of the two FDA-approved Covid-19 vaccines. Schumer said the bill would direct $30 billion into “procurement and distribution” of vaccines.
Health-care workers and top government officials have started to receive shots, and widespread inoculation in the coming months will help the world to emerge from the pandemic’s shadow.
The rescue package was also set to send relief to hospitals, many of which have struggled to keep up with a flood of Covid-19 patients. It also puts $82 billion into schools and colleges, according to Pelosi and Schumer.
The plan directs $25 billion into rental assistance and extends a federal eviction moratorium for an unspecified amount of time, the Democrats said.
It also puts $13 billion into enhanced Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits.
As lawmakers finally reach a deal, the help comes too late for the nearly 8 million people estimated to have fallen into poverty since June. Many in Congress say the proposal will not go nearly far enough to address the scope of the health and economic crises.
Progressives and some Republicans have pushed for larger direct payments and retroactive federal unemployment payments. A $600 weekly supplement that buoyed millions of jobless Americans in the early months of the pandemic expired over the summer, and it took Congress months to agree to reinstate it.
Schumer stressed Democrats would push for more relief in the new year. He signaled they would again request aid for state and local governments, a provision many Republicans support but McConnell opposes.
The Senate majority leader has called for liability protections for businesses, but lawmakers cast aside both issues as part of the year-end talks. Both will likely come up in the next round of talks that take place after Congress passes the $900 billion package.
“It cannot be the final word on congressional relief,” Schumer said of the bill.
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