The U.S. Congress has approved a $900 billion coronavirus aid package, throwing a lifeline to the nation’s pandemic-battered economy after months of inaction.
Following days of furious negotiation, both legislative chambers worked deep into Monday night to pass the bill – worth about $2.3 trillion including spending for the rest of the fiscal year – with the House of Representatives first approving it and the Senate following suit several hours later in a bipartisan 92-6 vote.
President Donald Trump is expected to sign the package into law.
The virus relief bill includes $600 payments to most Americans as well as additional payments to the millions of people thrown out of work during the COVID-19 pandemic, just as a larger round of benefits is due to expire on Saturday.
The 5,593-page legislation – by far the longest bill ever – combines coronavirus-fighting funds with financial relief for individuals and businesses.
It would establish a temporary $300 per week supplemental jobless benefit and a $600 direct stimulus payment to most Americans, along with a new round of subsidies for hard-hit businesses, restaurants, and theaters and money for schools, health care providers and renters facing eviction.
The stimulus package, the first congressionally approved aid since April, comes as the pandemic is accelerating in the United States, infecting more than 214,000 people every day and slowing the economic recovery. More than 317,000 Americans have died.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat, said she supported the virus relief bill even though it did not include the direct aid for state and local governments that Democrats had sought. She said they would try for it again after Democratic President-elect Joe Biden takes office on Jan. 20.
The bill, she said, “doesn’t go all the way but it takes us down the path.”
Republican Representative Hal Rogers, who also supported the package, said “it reflects a fair compromise.”
The wide-ranging bill that also spends $1.4 trillion on an array of federal programs through the end of the fiscal year in September, is likely to be the final major piece of legislation for the 116th Congress that expires on Jan. 3.
Congress included a measure continuing current levels of government spending for seven days, ensuring no interruption to federal operations.