The House and Senate are set to vote Monday on a roughly $900 billion pandemic relief bill, averting a sudden removal of government help at month-end but setting up the next battle over further assistance to an ailing economy.
The aid package will be attached to a $1.4 trillion measure to fund government operations through the end of the fiscal year, and congressional leaders said they expect the legislation to easily pass both chambers. The White House said President Donald Trump would sign it.
President-elect Joe Biden has pledged to seek further economic support after he takes office next month, something House Speaker Nancy Pelosi underscored on the House floor Monday: “We will need to do more,” she said. Republicans have a different take, with outgoing Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin saying Monday that “this will take us through the recovery.” He said on CNBC, “This is a large bill and has a little bit of everything for everybody.”
Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer announced the legislative accord on Sunday. The deal followed more than a week of furious negotiations sparked by a group of Democratic and Republican senators who drew up their own compromise proposal and urged their leaders to act.
It also came at the last possible moment for Congress to act before lawmakers are set to leave Washington for their year-end break.
The plan would provide direct payments of $600 to most Americans and $300 per week in enhanced unemployment benefits through March, according to lawmakers and aides. Expiring programs for gig workers and the long-term unemployed also would continue.
There would be $284 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program, which provides forgivable loans to small businesses. The package includes money for transportation — including for airlines — vaccine distribution, schools and universities, food aid, and many other provisions.
Negotiators couldn’t bridge partisan differences over a liability shield for companies wanted by some Republicans, and aid for state and local governments that Democrats had demanded, and left those out. A last-minute dispute over the Federal Reserve’s emergency lending authority threatened to derail an agreement until a compromise late Saturday cleared the way for the broader deal.
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