(UPDATED) Congress rushes to pass $900B COVID-19 relief package as part of larger spending billDecember 22, 2020
Congressional leaders unveiled a long-awaited agreement for $900 billion in coronavirus relief as part of a huge spending bill on Monday, leaving members mere hours to review on the 5,593-page behemoth before casting their vote the same night.
The legislation passed 359-53 in the Democrat-led House, before being sent to the Republican-control Senate where it passed 91-7 Monday night.
What are the details?
Leaders from Congress and the White House have been negotiating for months to decide on a deal that was finally reached Sunday and released in text form the next day — just in time to pass the legislation ahead of a Christmas break.
The final product was rolled into “a $2.3 trillion package that included $1.4 trillion to fund the government through the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30,” The New York Times reported.
According to Fox Business:
The measure includes about $325 billion in small business relief, including $284 billion in forgivable loans for small businesses through the Paycheck Protection Program; an extension of boosted federal unemployment benefits at $300 a week through March 14, 2021, and a second $600 stimulus check for Americans earning less than $75,000. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Monday he expects the federal government to begin issuing checks to millions of Americans as soon as next week.
Members from both sides of the aisle condemned the $600 stimulus checks as too paltry given the number of Americans pushed out of work and into poverty due to the pandemic and its effects on businesses and individuals. Some Republicans, however, voiced concern over the $1 trillion already added to the federal deficit from the bill as it stood.
Lawmakers from both parties and both chambers also expressed frustration at receiving the bill with such short time to review what it entails.
Several Republicans made the rare step of agreeing with far-left Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), when she condemned the fact that members were not shown the legislation in enough time to review what they were expected to sign off on.
“Congress is expected to vote on the second largest bill in US history *today* – $2.5 trillion – and as of about 1pm, members don’t even have the legislative text of it yet,” she wrote. “It’s not good enough to hear about what’s in the bill. Members of Congress need to see & read the bills we are expected to vote on.”
She added, “I know it’s ‘controversial’ & I get in trouble for sharing things like this, but the people of this country deserve to know. They deserve better.”
The Hill reported that the White House has signaled that President Donald Trump “will sign the legislation into law when it reaches his desk.”