Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., have announced Congress has reached a deal on pandemic relief Sunday afternoon. According to CNBC, who reported the story, the agreement will establish temporary $300 per week supplemental jobless benefits and $600 direct stimulus payments to most Americans, along with a new round of subsidies for hard-hit businesses and money for schools, health care providers and renters facing eviction.
“At long last, we have the bipartisan breakthrough the country has needed,” McConnell said in a statement.
The deal follows months of back and forth and name calling over how best to fight the ongoing crisis that is 2020. After the CARES Act was passed in March, Democrats moved quickly to pass trillions of dollars more in assistance just two months later.
The GOP, led by outgoing President Trump, at first downplayed the need for more aid, then in the summer embraced a more limited approach.
The agreement is truly a Christmas present to millions of Americans who are being forced to choose between buying food or paying the mortgage.
“The American people have a great deal to celebrate in this legislation. But of course, the agreement we reached is far from perfect,” Schumer said on Sunday.
The relief plan is set to include direct payments of $600 to most adults. Families were also expected to get $600 per child.
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The proposal was also set to put at least $300 billion into small business assistance including Paycheck Protection Program loans. It would also add a $300 federal unemployment supplement and temporarily keep in place pandemic-era programs that expanded unemployment insurance eligibility. It also includes money for renters, schools, the Postal Service and people requiring food aid, according to AP.
In addition, the bill includes $15 billion earmarked specifically for live event venues, independent movie theaters and cultural institutions, all businesses hit hard by the pandemic. It also expands the eligibility of the Paycheck Protection Program to include local TV and radio broadcasters, as well as newspapers.
If those provisions expire the day after Christmas, 12 million people will lose unemployment benefits.
The measure was also set to put critical funding into the distribution of the two FDA-approved Covid-19 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 was also expected to put new money into education and transportation.
As lawmakers finally reach a deal, the help comes a little too late for the nearly 8 million people estimated to have fallen into poverty since June.
In addition, to avoid a government shutdown that would begin at 12:01 a.m. ET Monday, Congress aims to approve a one-day spending measure on Sunday. It would keep the lights on until 12:01 a.m. ET on Tuesday. Lawmakers will then move to vote on the relief and funding bill on Monday.
More to come…