House Spokeswoman Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) returns after the house opens after receiving a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) aid package on December 21, 2020 on Capitol Hill, Washington, DC, the previous evening had agreed.
Ken Cedeno | Reuters
The House passed a mammoth coronavirus aid and government spending package Monday night as Congress poured the belated aid into fighting a one-off health and economic crisis.
The Senate hopes to follow the House in approving the more than $ 2 trillion piece of legislation in a vote that is likely to drag well into the night. Congress leaders have allocated $ 900 billion in pandemic aid for a $ 1.4 trillion effort to fund the government through September 30th.
At the same time, lawmakers are supposed to prevent a government shutdown, which would begin Tuesday at 12:01 a.m. ET.
The bill would send the help Americans needed for the first time since spring – though it will be too late for families struggling to eat and stay in their homes or small businesses that have already had to shut their doors permanently becomes. The package includes, among other things, an increase in unemployment benefits, more small business loans, an additional $ 600 in direct payment, and funding to streamline the critical distribution of Covid-19 vaccines.
President Donald Trump is expected to sign it weeks before leaving office.
When Congress rushed to approve one of the largest bailout plans in American history, lawmakers had only a few hours to process the 5,000-page piece of legislation. They wanted to break two key deadlines: phasing out pandemic-era unemployment programs that would see 12 million people lose benefits the day after Christmas and ending a federal eviction moratorium that could leave tens of millions of people vulnerable to losing their homes at the end of the month.
Key provisions of the bill include adding an unemployment benefit of $ 300 per week through mid-March and expanding programs that allow freelancers and gig workers to be eligible for benefits. It sends payments of $ 600 to individuals earning up to $ 75,000 and couples filing together and earning up to $ 150,000. The bill adds another $ 600 for each child.
The move provides for $ 284 billion in small business loans under the paycheck protection program. It invests more than $ 8 billion in vaccine distribution.
The bill would extend the federal eviction moratorium through January 31 and fund $ 25 billion in rental support. It would provide $ 13 billion for food aid, $ 82 billion for education, and $ 45 billion for transportation.
While most of Congress has hailed the bill as at least a first step in helping the country through the crisis, economists and Democrats have said the country will need more relief. President-elect Joe Biden and his allies in Congress have insisted that as soon as the new president takes office on January 20, they will press for more aid – including new aid to state and local governments.
“We are moving this bill forward today as a first step … We are ready for the next step,” House spokeswoman Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Wrote to House Democrats on Monday.
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