Congress Reaches a Deal on a $900 Billion Relief Package

"Flag flying over US Capitol [02]" (CC BY-SA 2.0) by Ben Schumin

Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) said on the Senate floor, “More help is on the way,” as Congress reached a deal on a roughly $900 billion relief package.

On the bill, McConnell stated that the legislators only have to “promptly finalize text” and “avoid any last-minute obstacles.” Said budget includes a new round of $600 stimulus checks for most Americans and aid to businesses that have been affected by the economic downturn due to the pandemic.

On Monday, both chambers of Congress will likely vote on the package. This massive budget will include $300 temporary supplemental payments every week for those who are unemployed. A $600 stimulus checks to Americans making less than $75,000 a year will also be distributed.

Last March, under the $2.2 trillion CARES Act, eligible Americans received one-time $1,200 checks. The CARES Act also included over $284 billion for businesses that were affected by the economic downturn and bringing back the Payment Protection Program (PPP). The PPP acted as an essential lifeline for businesses that are struggling due to the coronavirus pandemic.

According to The New York Times, the new measure is also anticipated to give $82 billion aid for colleges and schools, $25 billion in the form of rental assistance, the extension of the eviction moratorium, as well as funds for coronavirus vaccine distribution.

In addition to this, the budget also includes subsidies for businesses that were affected by the economic downturn, funds for schools, health care providers, and assistance to renters who are facing eviction.

In a joint statement by Sen. Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, they stated, “Today, we have reached an agreement with Republicans and the White House on an emergency coronavirus relief and omnibus package that delivers urgently needed funds to save the lives and livelihoods of the American people as the virus accelerates.” They continued and said, “We are going to crush the virus and put money in the pockets of the American people.”

The new relief package is designed to be an emergency bridge for Americans through the first quarter of 2021. Leaders of both parties and President-elect Joe Biden stated that they intend to recheck the COVID relief package next year.

This measure comes after months of fits, and unsuccessful talks have led to errors in the provisions of the CARES Act, exacerbating the suffering of millions of Americans struggling to make ends meet.

Although Congress reached the deal on Sunday, the agreement was expected early last week. However, it hit a roadblock after some senators demanded an end to Federal Reserve authority over emergency lending. Senior lawmakers only reached a compromise about the issue late Saturday.

Both parties had long been at odds over the amount and the policy. Despite such fact, negotiations still began in recent weeks by a bipartisan group, known as Problem Solvers Caucus, House members, and moderate senators, who quietly began informal talks to accommodate a viable framework.

Their negotiations resulted in a $748 billion agreement, which became the basis of the talks among McConnell, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., as well as the Trump administration.

Later Sunday, Senate Minority Leader Schumer called the new COVID relief deal “a strong shot in the arm.” Meanwhile, House Speaker Pelosi stated that it was the “first step” to aid Americans affected by the pandemic.