Congressional leaders agree to $900B coronavirus relief deal after months of negotiations

After months of negotiations on top of what many believed to be political gamesmanship, Republicans and Democrats have finally come to an agreement on a $900 billion COVID-19 relief package that is intended to help those most in need of financial relief amid the pandemic.

According to CBS News, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) confirmed Sunday that the back-and-forth has ended and, at long last, the two parties have struck a deal.

Marking the end of a bitter, months-long stalemate, the relief bill, which is set for a final vote Monday, will reportedly be attached to a $1.4 trillion spending bill that will keep a number of U.S. government programs and operations afloat until September 2021.

What’s in the bill?

According to CBS, the relief package contains a number of measures intended to help financially strapped Americans and businesses large and small weather the pandemic. One of the most heavily debated items in the new bill is a $600 direct payment to Americans, including children.

Another impactful addition to the relief package is an extra $300 in enhanced federal unemployment benefits that will last until mid-March of 2021, and an extended moratorium on evictions until Jan. 31 — two items that Democrats fought hard to include in the bill.

Adding to the benefits, according to Deadline, is more than $284 billion set aside for a new round of loans to businesses through the Paycheck Protection Program, which helped many small businesses stay alive during the first round of strict coronavirus-related lockdowns.

Other large chunks of the $900 billion bill will help schools obtain the appropriate resources needed to reopen during the pandemic, as well as provide $25 billion for rental assistance programs, Deadline reports.

An additional $30 billion in the bill will go toward accelerating the distribution of the recently announced COVID-19 vaccines, which are currently being administered to frontline health care workers and other essential personnel, according to CBS.

What happens next?

Late on Sunday, both chambers of Congress were forced to pass a continuing resolution to keep the government funded for one more day until both chambers could take up a vote Monday evening on the relief package and government spending bill, The Hill reported.

First, the U.S. House of Representatives will vote on the deal, and, assuming it passes, the measure then goes to the Senate for the same vote, where bipartisan cooperation is expected.

McConnell, for his part, has made it clear that the Senate will work late into the night to make sure the bill is passed, according to The Washington Post, saying Monday: “We’re going to stay here until we finish tonight.”

Once passed by both chambers, the measure will then make its way to the Resolute Desk, where President Donald Trump is expected to sign it without issue.

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