Sunday night, Congressional leadership finally managed to secure an agreement on a $900 million COVID relief bill during the lame duck period at the end of Donald Trump’s presidency. Congress hasn’t passed COVID relief since earlier this year, with the CARES Act in March being the last major bill to address the pandemic.
Speaking on the bill, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell stated “It is packed with targeted policies that help struggling Americans who have already waited entirely too long.”
Many pundits have blamed McConnell himself and the Republican Party for much of the delay, noting that Democrats passed the sweeping HEROES Act in the House of Representatives in May, but the bill languished on the Senate floor at McConnell’s direction.
However, the most recent bill was created with urgency, with party leaders from both sides working together to create a compromise. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer issued a join statement, noting “We are going to crush the virus and put money in the pockets of the American people.”
The full bill hasn’t been seen outside of Congress yet. However, some provisions are already known. One such provision is the promise of another round of direct payments to Americans, this time significantly less than the relief offered in March. This bill will include a $600 stimulus for most Americans, half of the $1,200 that was included in the CARES Act.
Other provisions include further unemployment money for people who are out of work and other funding aimed at helping businesses. However, all of this is contingent on the bill passing through Congress on Monday.
Congress is set to vote on the bill on Monday. It is unclear, however, if that vote will be able to clear both houses of Congress. Should even one Senator be unhappy with the wording of the bill, they could choose to dissent with a scheduled vote, thus derailing the process and making it unlikely the bill could be passed ahead of the looming end of the 116th Congress.
The House Rules Committee, meanwhile, will need to discuss the exact wording of the bill in a hearing that could take hours. As of the time of this writing, it is unclear whether the bill will be able to pass both the House and the Senate without at least some lawmakers taking issue with the language or content of the bill.