Congressional leaders strike a long-awaited stimulus deal: $600 checks and $300 federal weekly unemployment benefits for Americans
Left to right: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and Senate Minority Chairman Chuck Schumer Brendan Smialowski / Pool via AP
After months of negotiations, leading congressmen signed a stimulus agreement.
The federal aid package will include $ 600 stimulus checks and $ 300 weekly unemployment benefits.
Votes on the package are expected to take place on Monday.
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Congressional leaders on Sunday closed a long-awaited deal on a $ 900 billion bailout to overcome final political hurdles and pave the way for transition in a particularly dark section of the pandemic.
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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made the announcement in the Senate Sunday afternoon.
"The four Senate and House leaders have reached an agreement," the Kentucky Republican said, adding the plan would amount to $ 900 billion. "It will be another important bailout for the American people."
Negotiations began earlier this week in a series of consecutive meetings between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Minority Chair Chuck Schumer, McConnell, and House Minority Chair Kevin McCarthy. The group signaled that they had made steady progress over the past few days.
Pelosi and Schumer also released a statement in which they announced the breakthrough: "We will destroy the virus and put money in the pockets of the American people."
Democratic leaders in Congress announced that the package includes provisions, among other things:
$ 600 adult stimulus checks plus an additional $ 600 per child.
$ 300 weekly federal unemployment insurance for 11 weeks.
$ 284 billion in additional small business help through Paycheck Protection Program.
$ 82 billion for schools and universities.
Emergency aid of US $ 25 billion along with an extension of the eviction moratorium.
$ 13 billion for the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program.
$ 10 billion to help childcare workers and keep their doors open.
The leaders of Congress set a quick schedule. House majority leader Steny Hoyer, a Maryland Democrat, said the chamber would pass an emergency law to keep the government open for an extra day. They're also trying to pass a $ 1.4 trillion spending bill to help fund the government for the next year.
That could lead to a series of House and Senate votes at midnight on Monday, just hours before the government funding deadline. Legislators will have a very low margin of error in trying to pass laws and prevent the government from closing.
Senior Republicans and Democrats want to merge both laws, which means lawmakers could only have hours to review a comprehensive tax and spending package costing over $ 2 trillion.
The deal comes about as the economic recovery shows signs of slowing with no new federal aid in nine months. States are imposing new restrictions to suppress the rapid spread of the virus. Over the past three weeks, the number of Americans claiming unemployment benefits has grown steadily and employment growth threatens to stall. The economy reclaimed just over half of the 22 million jobs lost in March and April.
But virus cases and deaths hit new highs. The pandemic has further devastated American lives and many small businesses are on the verge of financial ruin. A new study by the University of Chicago and the University of Notre Dame found that 7.8 million people had fallen into poverty since the end of July.
Half of all small businesses in the country may have to close for good within the next year, according to a survey by the US Chamber of Commerce.
The congress runs against the expiry of several federal benefit programs established in the spring. Nearly 14 million people are at risk of losing all of their unemployment benefits if some federal measures are not renewed, according to the Department of Labor.
A moratorium on evictions also expires on December 31st, putting millions of Americans at risk of losing their homes.
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