Congress passes COVID aid package with $600 stimulus checks
The U.S. House and Senate late Monday approved a $900 billion stimulus bill that, if signed by President Donald Trump, will provide more aid to struggling small businesses and send a second round of direct payments to Americans.
The measure includes $600 in direct payments to qualifying Americans, half of the $1,200 approved in the CARES Act in late March, more than $280 billion in forgivable loans to small businesses through a renewed Paycheck Protection Program, and $300 a week in extended federal unemployment benefits on top of state benefits.
Both chambers of Congress passed the measure, which was attached to a $1.4 trillion spending bill to keep the federal government operating.
The vote was 91-7 in the U.S. Senate, and 359-53 in the House.
"I expect we'll get the money out by the beginning of next week – $2,400 for a family of four," Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told CNBC of the $600 in payments to individuals before the votes occurred.
The legislation also includes about $25 billion in rental assistance and an extension of an eviction moratorium put in place earlier this year, which is was set to expire this month. An additional $82 billion would be set aside for schools and colleges to prepare to safely reopen classrooms.
"Millions of families are on the verge of eviction and this legislation addresses the rental needs and a short term moratorium," U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said before a vote. "We can accept the short term because we'll have a new president during the length of that moratorium to extend it further when necessary."
The bill also would help pay for the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. Moderna's vaccine was approved for emergency use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Friday, a week after Pfizer's vaccine also received emergency use authorization.
Not in the bill was about $160 billion in funding for state and local governments, a bailout sought by Democrats but opposed by most Republicans.
Trump is expected to sign the relief bill.