By: Zachary Lopez (ZachNews):
Sources: United States House of Representatives and United States Senate (Information):
Washington, District of Columbia: The United States House of Representatives and United States Senate has approved on Monday, December 21st, 2020 a COVID-19 pandemic relief package.
*** Picture: C-SPAN (Courtesy): ***
Moments ago, the United States Senate reached enough votes, 91 Yeas to 7 Nays, passing the 60 needed votes to approve the COVID-19 pandemic relief package.
*** Read Full COVID-19 Pandemic Relief Package Document (PDF File): ***
The COVID-19 pandemic relief package would deliver long-sought cash to businesses and individuals and resources to vaccinate a nation confronting a frightening surge in COVID-19 cases and deaths.
Lawmakers tacked on a $1.4 trillion catchall spending bill and thousands of pages of other end-of-session business in a massive bundle of bipartisan legislation as Capitol Hill prepared to close the books on the year 2020.
The lopsided 359-53 vote was a bipartisan coda to months of partisanship, politicking as lawmakers wrangled over the relief question, a logjam that broke after United States President Elect Joe Biden urged his party to accept a compromise with top Republicans that is smaller than many Democrats would have liked.
The relief package, agreed to on Sunday and finally released in bill form Monday afternoon, remained on track for votes in Congress on Monday.
It would establish a temporary $300 per week supplemental jobless benefit and a $600 direct stimulus payment 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.
The COVID-19 pandemic relief package, unveiled Monday afternoon, sped through the House in a matter of hours.
A United States Senate vote that would send the bill to United States President Donald Trump appeared likely to follow soon.
The bill combines coronavirus-fighting funds with financial relief for individuals and businesses. It would establish a temporary $300 per week supplemental jobless benefit and a $600 direct stimulus payment to most Americans, along with a new round of subsidies for hard-hit businesses, restaurants, and theaters and money for schools, health care providers and renters facing eviction.
On direct payments, the bill provides $600 to individuals making up to $75,000 per year and $1,200 to couples making up to $150,000, with payments phased out for higher incomes. An additional $600 payment will be made per dependent child, similar to the last round of relief payments in the spring.
The $300 per week bonus jobless benefit was half the supplemental federal unemployment benefit provided under the $1.8 billion CARES Act in March. That more generous benefit and would be limited to 11 weeks instead of 16 weeks.
The direct $600 stimulus payment was also half the payment that was issued back in March 2020.
The CARES Act was credited with keeping the economy from falling off a cliff during widespread lockdowns in the spring, but Republicans controlling the Senate cited debt concerns in pushing against Democratic demands.
The 5,593-page legislation — by far the longest bill ever — came together Sunday after months of battling, posturing and post-election negotiating that reined in a number of Democratic demands as the end of the congressional session approached.
United States President Elect Joe Biden was eager for a deal to deliver long-awaited help to suffering people and a boost to the economy, even though it was less than half the size that Democrats wanted in the fall.
“This deal is not everything I want — not by a long shot. The choice before us is simple. It’s about whether we help families or not. It’s about whether we help small businesses and restaurants or not. It’s about whether we boost (food stamp) benefits and strengthen anti-hunger programs or not. And whether we help those dealing with a job loss or not. To me, this is not a tough call,” said Rules Committee Chairman Jim McGovern.
The Senate was also on track to pass a one-week stopgap spending bill to avert a partial government shutdown at midnight and give Trump time to sign the sweeping legislation.
Democrats promised more aid to come once United States President Elect Joe Biden takes office, but Republicans were signaling a wait-and-see approach.
The measure would fund the government through September 2021, wrapping a year’s worth of action on annual spending bills into a single package that never saw Senate committee or floor debate.
Stay tuned to ZachNews for more news updates regarding the COVID-19 pandemic relief package.