U.S. CONGRESS CUTS DEAL ON $900B PANDEMIC AID
Congressional leaders on Sunday (Monday, December 21, 2020 in Manila) reached a hard-fought agreement on a $900 billion stimulus package that would send immediate aid to Americans and businesses to help them cope with the economic devastation of the pandemic and fund the distribution of vaccines, Emily Cochrane reported for the New York Times.
The deal would deliver the first significant infusion of federal dollars into the economy since April, as negotiators broke through months of partisan gridlock that had scuttled earlier talks, leaving millions of Americans and businesses without federal help as the pandemic raged.
While the plan is roughly half the size of the $2.2 trillion stimulus law enacted in March, it is one of the largest relief packages in modern history.
The deal came together after a weekend of frenzied negotiating only hours before the government was set to run out of funding and two weeks before the next Congress was to convene on Jan. 3.
Although text was not immediately available, the agreement was expected to provide $600 stimulus payments to millions of American adults earning up to $75,000. It would revive lapsed supplemental federal unemployment benefits at $300 a week for 11 weeks — setting both at half the amount provided by the original stimulus law.
It would also continue and expand benefits for gig workers and freelancers, and it would extend federal payments for people whose regular benefits have expired. The measure would also provide more than $284 billion for businesses and revive the Paycheck Protection Program, a popular federal loan program for small businesses that lapsed over the summer.
It would expand eligibility under the program for nonprofits, local newspapers and radio and TV broadcasters and allocate $15 billion for performance venues, independent movie theaters and other cultural institutions devastated by the restrictions imposed to stop the spread of the coronavirus.