Congress voted Monday evening to approve a far-reaching $900 billion Covid relief package that promises to accelerate vaccine distribution and deliver much-needed aid to small businesses hit hard by the pandemic, Americans who have lost their jobs during the economic upheaval and health care workers on the front lines of the crisis.
The White House has said that President Donald Trump will sign the legislation once it reaches his desk.
Final passage of the aid package came after Hill leaders announced Sunday evening they had finally reached a deal after months of bitter partisan stalemate and days of contentious negotiations that created uncertainty over whether an agreement could be reached at all or if talks would collapse.
What the package includes: The rescue package, which was negotiated on a bipartisan basis, was combined with a massive $1.4 trillion government spending bill to fund federal agencies for the new fiscal year in a 5,593-page bill.
It will include direct payments of up to $600 per adult, enhanced jobless benefits of $300 per week, roughly $284 billion in Paycheck Protection Program loans, $25 billion in rental assistance, an extension of the eviction moratorium and $82 billion for schools and colleges.
“We can finally report what our nation has needed to hear for a very long time: More help is on the way,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Sunday night announcing the deal.
Opposition: A deal was reached only after both parties relinquished some of their key demands along the way to make it happen.
Faced with Republican opposition, Democrats were forced to abandon a push for roughly $160 billion in aid to cash-strapped states and cities, while Republicans dropped a demand for liability protections after Democrats signaled that was a red line.
Democrats are already signaling that they want to see more relief passed in the next session of Congress after President-elect Joe Biden takes office.
“I consider this a first step and again, more needs to be done,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said at a news conference Sunday evening.
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