Picture: Erin Scott/Reuters
On Sunday evening, the leaders of the U.S. Congress announced that they had finally agreed on a $900 billion pandemic stimulus deal to help unemployed workers, small businesses, and front-line health care workers as well as many other pandemic causes.
After many months of disagreement between the Democrats and Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate, Americans were nervous that a deal over the much-needed stimulus money would not be struck before the holidays. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said today that the final agreement “is packed with targeted policies that help struggling Americans who have already waited entirely too long.”
The contents of the package have not all been publicized; however some key components have been confirmed. For example, the relief package will offer $600 per adult and child within a certain income range, $300 per week of supplemental unemployment insurance benefits; billions of dollars in assistance to small businesses, including a forgivable Paycheck Protection Program loan, rental assistance, assistance to educational institutions, nutrition benefits, broadband access assistance to American households, as well as billions of dollars to support vaccine distribution and contact tracing.
However, we will not have a done deal until both houses of Congress have voted on the proposed package. First, the U.S. House must review the deal and then vote. Then the U.S. Senate will have to vote. This process can take several days. But these politicians will have a lot of pressure to approve the package, as Americans continue to struggle with increasing infection rates, rising death rates from COVID-19 and the economic impacts of the pandemic which continue to worsen.