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Congress Agrees to Pass New Coronavirus Stimulus Package

STIMULUS, Mitch Mcconell

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Washington, 20 Dec (EFE).

The leader of the Republican majority in the U.S. Senate, Mitch McConnell, announced on Sunday an agreement that had been reached with the Democrats to approve a new $900 billion stimulus package to alleviate the effects of the pandemic on the battered U.S. economy.

“More help is on the way. Just moments ago, in consultation with our committees, the four leaders of the Senate and House of Representatives finalized another major rescue package for the American people,” McConnell proclaimed after a weekend of lengthy negotiations.

The stimulus package is included in a $1.4 billion bill aimed at funding the Administration through September 2021 and should be approved in principle before midnight this Sunday to avoid federal agencies running out of funds and having to close.

However, this Sunday night, the House of Representatives and the Senate are planning to extend the federal administration’s funding by one more day, thus avoiding its closure and giving more time to Democrats and Republicans to work out the details of the stimulus plan.

If such an extension occurs, which has to be approved by outgoing U.S. President Donald Trump, it would be the fourth time since September that Congress has passed a law to increase the Administration’s funding and prevent it from having to shut down for lack of funding.

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On Friday, Congress already decided to extend funding by two days to give Democrats and Republicans more time to reach an agreement.

Over the weekend, the two sides succeeded in removing one of the main obstacles in the negotiations: a Republican proposal to restrict the Federal Reserve’s emergency borrowing capacity, something that Democrats feared would constrain the future administration of President-elect Joe Biden.

The stimulus package is expected to include direct payments of $600 to individuals with incomes of less than $75,000, a measure similar to the previous aid package, which passed in March, and in which such payments amounted to $1,200 per person.

In addition, $300 a week will be given to each person who is unemployed, a benefit that is in addition to the one already granted by the states and which, at times, is very scarce.

The legislation will also include $330 billion for small business loans and another $80 billion for schools, as well as billions of dollars to help local entities distribute covid-19 vaccines.

Congress has not passed any stimulus measures since March, when it approved a rescue plan of more than $2 trillion, the largest in U.S. history.