Covid-19 relief aidMonths after squabbling and bickering, the Congressional leaders have agreed upon a pandemic aid package of approximately $900bn. This will include fund for businesses and programmes related to support unemployed.
The announcement was made on Sunday night that the leaders have reached an estimated billion package that will deliver the much needed support to small businesses, unemployed people and health care workers as country also reinforces the vaccination drive. The package will also support a spending bill of $1.4tn that will fund various federal operations over the period of following nine months.
The decision offers a big relief as multiple COVID relief programmes were nearing expiry by month end, risking 12 million Americans losing the unemployment benefits.
Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell announced that both chambers have finalized an agreement on aid. He said, “It is packed with targeted policies that help struggling Americans who have already waited entirely too long.”
The ongoing disputes over policies between Republicans and Democrats bolstered doubts of whether a decision would be reached on a deal before the lawmakers embark on holidays and soon end of 116th Congress.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer released a joint statement, “We are going to crush the virus and put money in the pockets of the American people.”
President Donald Trump signed the bill shortly before midnight, thereby buying Congress 24 hours before the deadline.
On Monday, the House is set to vote for final relief package for Covid-19, along with next fiscal year’s omnibus spending bill of $1.4 trillion.
The details on distribution of aid are yet to be formally released, but the release from Senate Democratic leaders and House on Sunday evening reveals the probable distribution:
Direct payment checks per adult and child of up to $600
Aid support for struggling small businesses. This includes $284 billion for forgivable Paycheck Protection Program loans and $15 billion “in dedicated funding for live venues, independent movie theaters, and cultural institutions”
Enhanced unemployment insurance benefits – $300 per week
Rental assistance and eviction moratorium extension – $25 billion
Education providers, like schools, including aid to reopen classrooms safely – $82 billion
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and child nutrition – $13 billion
The bill, however, doesn’t include aid to local governments. This has been a top priority for Democrats. Schumer noted that the aid does offer support to local governments indirectly, inform of Covid-19 testing and aid to schools.
Schumer stressed that this package will “establish a floor, not a ceiling, for coronavirus relief in 2021.” He affirmed that as President-elect Joe Biden takes office in January, the Democrats would push for more package.