Congress approves $900B COVID relief bill

The Senate on Monday night passed a $900 billion pandemic relief package that had been needed for many months. The money is expected to go into crushing the virus and responding to the economic crisis.

More specifically, most Americans will receive a one-time payment of $600 each and the unemployed will receive $300 per week for 11 weeks. For a family of 4, the one-time payment would be around $2400, authorities said.

Struggling small businesses affected by the pandemic will apply for forgivable loans, money they will not need to refund if they keep their employees on the job for a specific amount of time.

Businesses such as restaurants, theaters will be able to apply and get the forgivable loans. The money will also go to schools, healthcare providers and renters facing eviction.

The bill will now go to President Donald J. Trump for his signature and make it law. The signature is expected in the coming days.

President Donald J. Trump speaks with military service personnel Thursday, Nov. 26, 2020, during a Thanksgiving video teleconference call from the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead) 
President Donald J. Trump speaks with military service personnel Thursday, Nov. 26, 2020, during a Thanksgiving video teleconference call from the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

The Senate passed the COVID-19 relief package 91 to 7 votes, after the House passed same 359-53 hours earlier.

Early on Monday night, the United States House of Representatives approved a massive $2.3 trillion federal spending package.

Democrat and Republican lawmakers joined hands to pass the legislation that combined another round of emergency coronavirus relief with funding to keep the government running until September next year.

The bipartisan bill comes after months of negotiations, and at a time when the coronavirus pandemic is accelerating in the United States. Thousands are dying daily and more than 200,000 Americans are contracting the virus every 24 hours.

With deaths and new cases expand, state government have been forced to impose restrictions that have crippled businesses and kept millions of Americans out of work.

Only last week, more than 800,000 Americans apply for unemployment benefits, and millions have been seen lining up at food banks to get something to eat.

Roughly $900 billion will go towards mitigating the health and economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic, while $1.4 trillion will go towards funding the federal government through the rest of the fiscal year, which ends on September 30, 2021.

Nancy Pelosi 
Nancy Pelosi

Democratic leaders in the House divided the package into two pieces for separate votes on Monday night with the first piece featuring funding for several key agencies, including the Pentagon and the Department of Homeland Security.The first piece passed by a vote of 327 to 85.

The second piece, which combined funding for the remaining government agencies along with COVID-19 relief. It was passed 359 to 53 with the opposition coming mainly from Republicans who were opposed to the escalating national debt.

The 5,593-page bill is now headed to the Senate where it is expected to pass.

Democrats have argued that the $900 billion passed to combat the health emergency and the economic fallout was too small. They passed a $3.4 trillion package in May that was rejected by the Republicans.They also floated a $2.2 trillion package before the election.

Chief White House Correspondent for

Simon Ateba is Chief White House Correspondent for Today News Africa. Simon covers President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, the U.S. government, the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and other financial and international institutions in Washington D.C. and New York City.

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