Congress is set to act on a $900 billion pandemic relief package.
After months of Washington gridlock, Congress is finally delivering long-sought cash to businesses and individuals as well as resources to vaccinate a nation confronting a frightening surge in COVID-19 cases and deaths.
According to AP News, the relief package came together Sunday after months of battling, posturing and postelection negotiating that reined in a number of Democratic demands as the end of the congressional session approached. 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.
Biden praised the bipartisan spirit that produced the measure, which he called “just the beginning (…) This is a model for the challenging work ahead for our nation,” he said Sunday in a statement.
The package is expected to draw votes in Congress on Monday, 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.
House and Senate leaders planned votes for Monday, but the measure was still being completed. Lawmakers were eager to leave Washington and close out a tumultuous year.
Delays in finishing the agreement prompted Congress to pass a one-day stopgap spending bill to prevent a government shutdown at midnight Sunday.
The final agreement would be the largest spending measure yet. It combined $900 billion for COVID-19 relief with a $1.4 trillion governmentwide funding plan and lots of other unrelated measures on taxes, health, infrastructure and education. The governmentwide funding would keep the government open through September.