The U.S. Congress on Monday approved an $892 billion coronavirus aid package, throwing a lifeline to the nation’s pandemic-battered economy after months of inaction, while also keeping the federal government funded for another year.
U.S. Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), walks from the Senate floor as both chambers of Congress are aimed to pass the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) package in a marathon session on Capitol Hill Washington, D.C., U.S., December 21, 2020. REUTERS/Ken Cedeno
President Donald Trump is soon expected to sign the package into law.
After days of furious negotiation, both legislative chambers worked deep into the night to pass the massive bill, with the House of Representatives first approving it and the Senate following suit several hours later in bipartisan votes.
The virus relief bill includes $600 payments to most Americans as well as additional payments to the millions of people thrown out of work during the COVID-19 pandemic, just as a larger round of benefits is due to expire on Saturday.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat, said she supported the virus relief bill even though it did not include the direct aid for state and local governments that Democrats had sought. She said they would try for it again next year after Democratic President-elect Joe Biden takes office.
The bill, she said, “doesn’t go all the way but it takes us down the path.”
Republican Representative Hal Rogers, who also supported the package, said “it reflects a fair compromise.”
At 5,593 pages, the wide-ranging bill that also spends $1.4 trillion on an array of federal programs through next September, is likely to be the final major piece of legislation for the 116th Congress that expires on Jan. 3. Congress included a measure continuing current levels of government spending for seven days, ensuring no interruption to federal operations.
It has a net cost of roughly $350 billion for coronavirus relief, Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said, adding that more than $500 billion in funding comes from unspent money Congress had authorized.