Congress has reached an agreement on a second round of COVID-19 relief. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced Sunday night that leaders in both the House and Senate had reached a bipartisan agreement.
“For the information of all Senators, and for the information of the American people, we can finally report what our nation has needed to hear for a long time: More help is on the way,” McConnell said in a statement. “Moments ago, in consultation with our committees, the four leaders in the Senate and the House finalized an agreement.”
The $900 billion relief package is the second since the CARES Act passed in March.
The relief package includes:
- $282 billion for Paycheck Protection Program loans to businesses, including $15 billion to live venues and movie theaters
- A $300 increase in unemployment benefits
- $25 billion in rental assistance. The relief package also extends the national eviction moratorium through Jan. 31.
- Direct payment checks of up to $600 for eligible adults. Families can also receive an additional $600 per child.
- $82 billion for colleges and schools
- $13 billion in increased SNAP and nutrition benefits
“The emergency relief in this agreement, the second largest in history only to the CARES Act, is an important first step that Democrats look forward to building on under the new Biden-Harris Administration to meet the remaining needs of the American people during this historic health and economic crisis,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a joint statement.
The $600 stimulus checks were not initially included in a proposal put out by Republicans. Democratic lawmakers, including Rep. Ilhan Omar, pushed for their inclusion in negotiations.
Still, Omar is among those who say the number is too small, particularly when compared to other western nations that have provided larger amounts despite having smaller economies.
She also criticized the lack of assistance the bill is providing to state and local governments, which are not included for any additional funding in the deal.
"Six hundred dollars is not close to sufficient to cover eight months of lost wages, food or rent expenses," Omar said in a statement. "State and local governments in Minnesota are bleeding resources, while shouldering the burden of education, public safety, and public healthcare workers in the face of massive revenue shortfalls."
According to CNBC, stimulus checks will likely begin to be delivered this month.
The relief package does not include liability protection for businesses against COVID-19 related lawsuits, a measure backed by Republicans including McConnell, according to NBC.
First Avenue was part of a push by the National Independent Venue Association to include money for live entertainment venues. Sen. Amy Klobuchar praised the provision.