by Sherri Kolade
Congress recently agreed to an end-of-year deal to pass a second coronavirus aid package that includes support for small businesses, unemployment benefits, and $600 in direct payments to most US residents, as many are at the end of their rope financially.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced the major milestone Sunday evening after the parties spent all weekend negotiating, a Buzzfeed according to a Buzzfeed article. Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer called it “better late than never.” The House is planning to vote on the bill Monday, and the Senate should follow shortly after, the published report said.
The roughly $900 billion package includes checks of up to $600 for every US adult, as well as $600 for each child dependent. The payment amounts are expected to somewhat phase out for people who make over $75,000 per year and are phased out completely for individuals who earn $100,000, which is similar to the qualifications for checks the government sent out to individuals in March, according to the article.
The bill also includes $300 per week in federal unemployment benefits (in addition to state benefits) for 11 weeks, half of what Congress provided with the CARES Act this past spring. The details are being ironed out, but it also includes billions in dollars for small businesses, the transportation industry, schools, and for COVID testing, tracing, and vaccinations.
Other parts of the deal include:
- $284 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program for businesses, which subsidizes keeping employees on payroll
- $35 billion in rental assistance and extension of a federal eviction moratorium
- The deal includes legislation to end the practice of surprise medical billing
- $82 billion for colleges and schools
- $10 billion for child care
- $13 billion for food stamps and children nutrition program
- $27 billion for state highways and transportation industries, including airlines and Amtrak.
It would be the first pandemic aid passed by Congress since the CARES Act in March. Since then, aid programs have expired and nearly 8 million people have fallen into poverty, according to the article. Congress is attempting to get the plan on President Donald Trump’s desk to be signed into law as early as today, according to the report.