Covid-19: US Congress passes $900 billion relief package

President-elect Joe Biden urges Democrats to accept compromise with top Republicans

US speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi walks near the House chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington as congressional leaders discussed a stimulus and relief package. Photograph: EPA/MICHAEL REYNOLDS

US speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi walks near the House chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington as congressional leaders discussed a stimulus and relief package. Photograph: EPA/MICHAEL REYNOLDS

 

The US Congress has passed a $900 billion (€736 billion) relief package to deliver long-sought cash to businesses and individuals and resources to vaccinate a nation confronting a surge in Covid-19 cases and deaths.

The relief package, unveiled on Monday, sped through the House and Senate in a matter of hours.

The Senate cleared the massive package by a 92-6 vote after the House approved the Covid-19 package by another lopsided vote, 359-53.

Politicians wrangled over the relief question, but the logjam broke after President-elect Joe Biden urged his party to accept a compromise with top Republicans that is smaller than many Democrats would have liked.

The bill, which also covers $1.4 trillion to fund other government operations, goes to US president Donald Trump for his signature, which is expected in the coming days.

It combines coronavirus-fighting funds with financial relief for individuals and businesses, and would establish a temporary $300 per week supplemental jobless benefit and a $600 direct stimulus payment to most Americans.

Also included are a new round of subsidies for hard-hit businesses, restaurants, and theatres and money for schools, health care providers and renters facing eviction.

The 5,593-page legislation — by far the longest bill ever — came together on Sunday after months of battling, posturing and postelection negotiating that reined in a number of Democratic demands as the end of the congressional session approached.

Mr Biden was eager for a deal to deliver long-awaited help to suffering people and a boost to the economy, even though it was less than half the size that Democrats wanted in the autumn. - AP