Congress reaches agreement on new COVID-19 relief package. See what’s in it.
By Frank Corder - December 21, 2020
Congressional leaders have reached an agreement on a $900 billion COVID-19 relief package that is also tied into a $1.4 trillion spending bill that funds the federal government through the end of the fiscal year in September 2021.
The latest round of pandemic stimulus funding was hailed as “another major rescue package for the American people” by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R). Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D) said the deal was far from perfect and vowed to push for another round of relief when President-elect Joe Biden was sworn in. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D) echoed Schumer’s thoughts, saying it would be easier to get another package done with Biden in the White House.
Republicans sought to provide liability protections for schools and businesses operating during the pandemic but Democrats blocked those efforts. On the flip side, Democrats wanted state and local funds to bail out governments but those provisions were sidelined.
Here is a look at what is in this COVID-19 relief deal.
Individual payments of $600 per adult earning less than $75,000 and $600 per dependent.
Extension of pandemic unemployment programs for 11 more weeks, including $300 per week supplemental jobless benefit.
Repurposes more than $560 billion in unspent CARES Act funding.
Tax credit to support employers offering paid sick leave.
$13 billion in increased benefits for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
$25 billion for direct rental assistance.
Extension of an eviction moratorium through January 2021.
Extension of the Paycheck Protection Program, with eligibility for media and nonprofits.
$20 billion to small business grants.
$15 billion in grants for live event venues.
$82 billion in education funding.
$30 billion for distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine.
End to surprise medical billing.
The Senate and House are expected to vote Monday, December 21, 2020, to pass the legislation and send it to President Donald Trump for his signature. Trump has indicated that he will sign the bill.
Mississippi Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (R) issued the following statement on Sunday as the news of the deal broke:
“I share the frustration many Mississippians must feel during last-minute wrangling of Congress every December to complete its work. However, I am heartened that a spirit of compromise prevailed to ensure we continue needed relief for hard-hit families, unemployed workers, small businesses, and healthcare providers on the front lines of our fight against COVID-19. Much of the assistance in this package resembles the targeted aid Senate Republicans have advocated since July.
“Mississippi will also benefit from the funding and certainty contained in the omnibus appropriations package for Fiscal Year 2021. I’ve worked hard to represent Mississippi’s interests in these annual funding bills, and believe the final legislation reflects that fact.”
Congressman Bennie Thompson (D – MS-02) is supporting the deal, saying in a tweet, “Help is on the way!”
“I look forward to voting for the Emergency Coronavirus Relief and Omnibus Agreement, which will meet the needs of the American people during this time of great suffering,” Thompson said. “Help is on the way!”