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The relief plan includes more funding for the Paycheck Protection Program to support small businesses.
U.S. Congress approved a US$900-billion-COVID-19 relief package late Monday, along with US$1.4-trillion regular government funding, sending the spending bill to President Donald Trump for signing into law.
The long-awaited relief package was approved by the Senate with a 92-to-6 vote, along with government funding for the rest of the fiscal year, which ends on Sept. 30, 2021. The House of Representatives has also passed the package.
Following months of deadlock over the size and scope of the next round of relief package, Democratic and Republican lawmakers finally reached a deal on Sunday.
The US$900-billion relief plan includes another round of direct payments for individuals, federal unemployment benefits, and more funding for Paycheck Protection Program to support small businesses. It also features hundreds of billions more for schools, testing and the distribution of vaccines.
Calling the relief bill "a step forward," Bernie Sanders said "while we did not get as much as we wanted, the average family of four will receive a direct payment of US$2,400."
"Will that help? Yes, it will. Is it enough? No, it is not," Sanders said. "In this horrific crisis, we must fight for more relief."
For Democrats, the US$900-billion relief package is much smaller than the US$3.4 trillion package they passed in the House in May, and down from the US$2.2 trillion proposal they offered in October.
In order to reach an agreement, both parties recently agreed to drop their key demands: more aid to state and local governments, sought by Democrats, and liability protections for businesses, sought by Republicans. These have been key sticking points in the marathon negotiations.
A key component of the agreement is an extension of unemployment insurance benefits with US$300 per week in added benefits, though lower than the previously approved US$600.