WASHINGTON (December 21) — After extensive negations, Congress struck a deal Monday on a nearly $900 billion COVID-19 government relief funding bill to bring much-needed aid to Americans struggling during the pandemic.
Congressional leaders voted overwhelmingly to approve the bill, which includes a new round of stimulus checks issued to families, an extension of unemployment benefits and more money for vaccines and education.
The House approved the legislation 359 to 53 and the Senate passed the bill by a 92-6 vote.
Those earning up to $75,000 per year will receive up to $600 each, while married couples earning up to $150,000 will receive $1,200, as well as an additional $600 for each dependent under 18 living in the same household.
Additionally, the bill extends unemployment insurance and federal unemployment insurance by $300 a week, provides more than $284 billion more in loans for businesses struggling to pay rent and workers, $69 billion for testing and vaccine distribution and $82 billion for colleges and schools.
Americans will begin getting direct payments early next week, according to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
The bill also extends the moratorium on evictions and provides targeted funding for underrepresented groups, such as Native American and other minority communities.
A separate measure was attached to the bill to avoid a government shutdown for seven days.
The final step is for President Donald Trump to sign the bill, which he is expected to do in the next few days.
This will provide more time for lawmakers to review the 5,600-page bill. The Senate Historical Office reports this is the longest bill they could find record of passing Congress. Lawmakers complained they didn’t have time to read through the legislation before voting on the measure.