The U.S Senate leaders on both sides of the aisle each blamed the other for the long stint between the last coronavirus relief package and the deal reached Dec. 20. (U.S. Senate)
Senate leadership announced a bipartisan deal on an approximately $900 billion economic relief package late Sunday afternoon that would deliver emergency aid to a faltering economy and a nation besieged by surging coronavirus cases. After months of contentious negotiations and seemingly intractable partisan gridlock, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) took to the Senate floor to say that a deal had been finalized and could be quickly approved.
The emerging stimulus package was expected to direct hundreds of billions of dollars in aid to jobless Americans, ailing businesses, and other critical economic needs that have grown as the pandemic ravages the country and batters the economy. “More help is on the way. Moments ago, in consultation with our committees, the four leaders of the Senate and House finalized an agreement. It would be another major rescue package for the American people,” McConnell said. “As our citizens continue battling this coronavirus pandemic this holiday season, they will not be fighting alone.”
Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Capitol Hill on Tuesday. (Susan Walsh/AP)
Schumer then took to the floor, calling the aid package insufficient but heralding it as a critical measure to “give the new president a boost, a head start, as he prepared to right our ailing economy.”
The House and Senate on Sunday night approved a one-day extension of government funding to allow the final bill text on the relief package to be written. President Trump signed the stopgap measure, preventing a government shutdown.
The legislation includes stimulus checks for millions of Americans of up to $600 per person. The size of that benefit would be reduced for people who earned more than $75,000 in 2019 and disappear altogether for those who earned more than $99,000. The stimulus checks would provide $600 per adult and child, meaning a family of four would receive $2,400 up to a certain income.
Congress would also extend federal unemployment benefits of up to $300 per week, which could start as early as Dec. 27.
Congress is scrambling to pass a coronavirus stimulus bill before the end of 2020.
The income criteria for the stimulus checks is expected to reflect that of the first round of relief payments sent by the Treasury Department earlier this year.
Adult dependents are not expected to qualify for the stimulus payments, people familiar with the negotiations said, despite a push from congressional Democrats. The deal would include stimulus payments for families in which one of the parents is not a citizen, but not for undocumented immigrants themselves.