Congress set to vote on $900bn COVID-19 aid package at last

*The measure will send direct payments to Americans and aid small businesses, and households are expected to receive $600 per adult and $600 per child, with the amounts decreasing as income levels rise

Isola Moses | ConsumerConnect

Nine months after, the US Congressional negotiators have reached an agreement on a nearly $900 billion aid package to help businesses and individuals to cope with the negative economic consequences of the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

It took eliminating the two provisions that caused the standoff, according to agency report.

Democrats’ insistence on billions of dollars for state and local government and the GOP’s demand for immunity from lawsuits for businesses were dropped.

Whereas what’s left is a scaled-back version of the $2 trillion CARES Act that Congress passed in April 2020, as the key provisions of that measure expire at the end of the month.

Here’s what’s in the bill:

  • $600 in direct payments to both adults and children, based on income;
  • $300 a week in extra unemployment benefits for 10 weeks;
  • $25 billion in rental assistance, extending the moratorium on evictions;
  • $280 billion for new Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans;
  • $15 billion in grants for theaters and other performance venues;
  • $13 billion in additional food stamp and nutrition funding; and
  • $30 billion to purchase more COVID-19 vaccines.

In terms of direct payments based on income, payments to Americans are expected to be half the amount contained in the CARES Act, with more of the money targeted to people most in need.

Households are expected to receive $600 per adult and $600 per child, with the amounts decreasing as income levels rise.

The extension of the eviction moratorium will likely head off a wave of evictions that would have begun January 1, 2021.

The CARES Act prevented landlords from evicting tenants who are behind on their rent, but that provision expires with the end of the year.

A last-minute disagreement over the Federal Reserve’s emergency lending powers threatened to hold up an agreement, but Republicans and Democrats were able to reach a compromise.

It was gathered that the Congress had to pass a one-day stopgap spending measure so lawmakers could vote today ─ the aid package is part of a routine government spending authorisation bill.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said: “At long last, we have the bipartisan breakthrough the country has needed.

“Now, we need to promptly finalise text, avoid any last-minute obstacles and cooperate to move this legislation through both chambers.”

That’s expected to happen later Monday, December 21, 2020.

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