Congress Reaches Deal Securing $900-billion For Stimulus Relief Package

Cutout James Palinsad / CC BY-SA 2.0

WASHINGTON – Congressional leaders are expected to vote Monday after announcing over the weekend that they have reached a sweeping $900-billion stimulus deal to help a struggling nation.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced on the news on Sunday in a tweet.










“As the American people continue battling the coronavirus this holiday season, they will not be on their own,” McConnell said in a tweet. “Congress has just reached an agreement. We will pass another rescue package ASAP. More help is on the way.”

Propelling optimism on Sunday was a Saturday night agreement on the last major obstacle to a COVID-19 economic relief package, top negotiators agreed, yet Sunday was being spent ironing out a handful of issues.





All sides said a Sunday agreement appeared very likely, but it quickly became clear that another stopgap funding bill would be needed to avert a partial government shutdown at midnight.

“Barring a major mishap, the Senate and House will be able to vote on final legislation as early as tonight,” said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.



















The Saturday night breakthrough involved a fight over Federal Reserve emergency powers that was resolved by Schumer and conservative Republican Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania.

Aides to lawmakers in both parties said the compromise sparked a final round of negotiations.

Lawmakers and aides had said it would likely require all of Sunday to finalize and draft the final agreement, which was already guaranteed to be the largest spending measure yet, combining COVID-19 relief with a $1.4 trillion omnibus spending bill and reams of other unrelated legislation on taxes, health, infrastructure and education.

The virus relief measure was finally nearing passage amid a frightening spike in coronavirus cases and deaths and accumulating evidence that the economy was struggling.

Late-breaking decisions would limit $300 per week bonus jobless benefits — one half the supplemental federal unemployment benefit provided under the CARES Act in March — to 10 weeks instead of 16 weeks as before.

The direct $600 stimulus payment to most people would be half the March payment, subject to the same income limits in which an individual’s payment begins to phase out after $75,000.

President Donald Trump was supportive, particularly of the push for providing more direct payments. “GET IT DONE,” he said in a late-night tweet.

It would be the first significant legislative response to the pandemic since the $1.8 trillion CARES Act passed virtually unanimously.

The COVID-19 legislation was held up by months of dysfunction, posturing and bad faith. But talks turned serious last week as lawmakers on both sides finally faced the deadline of acting before leaving Washington for Christmas.

The measure was being added to a $1.4 trillion spending bill and combined with lots of other unfinished work, including previously stalled legislation to extend tax breaks, authorize water projects, and address the problem of surprise sky-high medical bills for out-of-network procedures.

It would be virtually impossible for lawmakers to read and fully understand the sprawling legislation before a House vote. Senate action would follow.

In the meantime, with a government shutdown deadline looming at midnight Sunday, lawmakers faced the reality of needing to enact another temporary spending bill — the second in as many days — to avert a shutdown of non-essential activities by federal agencies on Monday.

They had not announced any plans, but such legislation quickly swept through on Friday to keep the government fully open another two days for weekend talks.

Lawmakers had hoped to avoid that step, but progress slowed Saturday as Toomey pressed for the inclusion of a provision to close down Fed lending facilities.

Democrats and the White House said it was too broadly worded and would have tied the hands of the incoming Biden administration, but Republicans rallied to Toomey’s position.

The Fed’s emergency programs provided loans to small and mid-size businesses and bought state and local government bonds.

Those bond purchases made it easier for those governments to borrow, at a time when their finances were under pressure from job losses and health costs stemming from the pandemic.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said last month that those programs, along with two that purchased corporate bonds, would close at the end of the year, prompting an initial objection by the Fed.

Under the Dodd-Frank financial overhaul law passed after the Great Recession, the Fed can only set up emergency programs with the support of the treasury secretary.

Toomey said those emergency powers were designed to stabilize capital markets at the height of the pandemic this spring and were expiring at the end of the month anyway.

Democrats said that Toomey was trying to limit the Fed’s ability to boost the economy, just as Biden prepared to take office.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

 

Make it easy to keep up to date with more stories like this. Download the WNY News Now mobile app on the Apple App Store and Google Play Store.

 

Have a news tip? Email newsdesk@WNYNewsNow.com, send us a message on Facebook, or Twitter.

WNY News Now encourages an open exchange of opinions and ideas on our stories, however, we ask everyone to follow our comment policy.

7 Comments

  1. $600 for NINE MONTHS of Shutdown….

    Name one politician who didn’t receive a paycheck during this time…..

    And they think a payout of $600 of OUR tax money, given back to us is FAIR?

  2. The 5,593 page budget-busting bill was posted online Monday afternoon, only hours before House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said a vote would be held.

    For some countries, Christmas came early:

    $169,739,000 to Vietnam, including $19 million to remediate dioxins (page 1476).
    Unspecified funds to “continue support for not-for-profit institutions of higher education in Kabul, Afghanistan that are accessible to both women and men in a coeducational environment” (page 1477).
    $198,323,000 to Bangladesh, including $23.5 million to support Burmese refugees and $23.3 million for “democracy programs” (page 1485).
    $130,265,000 to Nepal for “development and democracy programs” (page 1485).
    Pakistan: $15 million for “democracy programs” and $10 million for “gender programs” (page 1486).
    Sri Lanka: Up to $15 million “for the refurbishing of a high endurance cutter,” which is a type of patrol boat (page 1489).
    $505,925,000 to Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama to “address key factors that contribute to the migration of unaccompanied, undocumented minors to the United States” (pages 1490-1491).
    $461,375,000 to Colombia for programs related to counternarcotics and human rights (pages 1494-1496).
    $74.8 million to the “Caribbean Basin Security Initiative” (page 1498).
    $33 million “for democracy programs for Venezuela” (page 1498).
    Unspecified amount to Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, Curacao, and Trinidad and Tobago “for assistance for communities in countries supporting or otherwise impacted by refugees from Venezuela” (page 1499).
    $132,025,000 “for assistance for Georgia” (page 1499).
    $453 million “for assistance for Ukraine” (page 1500).

    • NO MONEY TO ANY OTHER COUNTRIES NOW.
      PERIOD !!!!!!!!!!

      WE NEED TO HELP OUR OWN PEOPLE AND OUR OWN “FAMILIES” IN OUR COUNTRY FIRST.

      OH YES, FORGET THE SMITHSONIAN, THE KENNEDY CENTER AND THE NATIONAL GALLERY OF ART. FUNDING SUSPENDED INDEFINTELY.

      NO MONEY FOR ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS EITHER.

      NO MONEY TO COUNT AMBER JACK FISH IN THE GULF OF MEXICO. INSTEAD, LET’S COUNT THE NUMBER OF PEOPLE IN AMERICA THAT REALLY NEED OUR HELP.

      ASIAN CARP: NO MONEY TO COMBAT.
      GIVE OUT FISHING LICENSES FOR THEM INSTEAD.

      NO MONEY FOR CONSTRUCTION AT FBI EITHER.

      TERM LIMITS FOR ALL !!!!!!!!!!

  3. Just another example of “we’ll see what’s in it once we pass it!” How absurd. And look at ALL the Pork for other countries while Americans starve and lose their homes without jobs. Members of congress should live by the same standards as other Americans. Maybe they would act more responsibly!

  4. No wonder why the United States is going bankrupt while Americans are suffering job losses and evictions during the coronavirus pandemic and more individuals/families are becoming homeless while we fatten the bellies of the countries listed. Too bad that the majority of voting citizens will not be aware of those dole outs to these other countries.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


*


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.