WASHINGTON: The US House of Representatives passed an $892 billion coronavirus aid package on Monday aimed at throwing a lifeline to the nation’s pandemic-battered economy, clearing the way for Senate approval later in the evening.
The chamber, in a pair of bipartisan votes, also adopted a $ 1.4 trillion measure, which will keep the US government funded for another year, which will also be sent to the Senate for consideration.
The aid bill, which would become law if passed by the Senate and signed by President Donald Trump, includes $ 600 payments to most Americans, as well as additional payments for the millions of people laid off during the COVID-19 pandemic. , as well as a larger round of benefits will expire on Saturday.
The White House has said Trump will sign the bill.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat, urged lawmakers to support the virus elimination bill, even though she complained that it does not include direct aid to state and local governments that Democrats have called for. She said they would try again next year after Democratic President-elect Joe Biden took office.
The bill, she said, “doesn’t go all the way, but it does get us on the right track.”
Republican Representative Hal Rogers, who backed the package, said it “reflects a fair compromise.”
Earlier, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican, told Capitol reporters that the passage of legislation in the Senate “will probably be delayed, but we will finish tonight.”
At 5,593 pages, the large-scale bill will likely be the last major piece of legislation for the 116th Congress, which expires on January 3rd.
It has a net cost of about $ 350 billion to exempt the coronavirus, McConnell said, adding that more than $ 500 billion in funding comes from unused money that Congress has authorized.
The stimulus package, the first aid approved by Congress in April, comes as the pandemic accelerates in the United States, infecting more than 214,000 people every day and slowing the economic recovery. More than 317,000 Americans have died.
The legislation also expands a small business loan program by about $ 284 billion and directs money to schools, airlines, transit systems and vaccine distribution.
The Small Business Loan and Financing Program, known as the Wage Protection Program, would exclude listed companies from eligibility.
Based on reports that the Trump organization has received previous aid, the bill contains disclosure requirements for the president, vice president, chief of staff, lawmakers and spouses and prohibits those individuals from receiving loans in the future.
State and local governments, which are struggling to pay for the distribution of newly approved COVID-19 vaccines, will receive $ 8.75 billion from Washington, of which $ 300 million will target vaccinations in minority and high-risk populations.
SCRAPPED STICKING POINTS
The deal, drafted in a rare weekend session of Congress, omits the most thorny bottlenecks, which included Republicans ‘desire to protect companies from coronavirus-related lawsuits, as well as Democrats’ demand to spend large sums of money – state governments and local removed.
McConnell, interviewed by Fox News, has pledged to renew his efforts to protect against corporate lawsuits in any coronavirus aid bill that the Biden administration is due to receive in early 2021.
The measure is much smaller than the $ 3 billion required in a bill passed by the Democratic-controlled House in May that the Republican-controlled Senate ignored.
Biden called on Congress to consider an additional incentive for him to join the law when he takes office on January 20th. “My message to all those who are fighting right now is helping,” he said in a statement.
The bill would be the second largest stimulus package in US history, behind the approximately $ 2 trillion aid bill approved in March. Experts said the money played a critical role as social distancing measures covered large areas of the economy.