Senate approves the $900 billion coronavirus relief package, sending it to Trump's desk for his signature
- The Senate approved the $900 billion federal rescue package on Monday evening.
- Senate approved the legislation on Monday, sending it to Trump's desk for his signature.
- House Democrats approved the legislation earlier in the evening.
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The Senate approved the $900 billion federal rescue package along with a government funding bill on Monday evening, clearing the way for one of the largest pieces of legislation ever taken up by Congress to reach President Donald Trump's desk for his expected signature.
The chamber passed it with a vote margin of 91 to 7. Those opposed were made up of strongly conservative Republicans. The House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed it only two hours earlier.
If signed into law, the emergency spending package will funnel hundreds of billions of dollars to unemployed Americans and ailing businesses grappling with the devastating consequences of the pandemic. Those measures included $300 weekly federal unemployment benefits and $600 stimulus checks for Americans earning below $75,000. It also directs federal funding to transportation agencies, public health departments, and vaccine distribution as well.
The final government rescue package was the culmination of months of tumultuous negotiations between Congressional leaders. Republicans and Democrats clashed over the amount of spending needed to prop up the economy. It's recently reflected weakness as virus cases continue piling up and new restrictions keep Americans home.
Many economists and Federal Reserve officials have urged lawmakers to approve more emergency spending since the summer. But numerous talks fell through since July, and lawmakers had not approved any emergency legislation since the $2 trillion CARES Act in March.
Then a bipartisan group of moderate senators earlier this month sought to break through the partisan gridlock to assist small businesses and struggling Americans. They spearheaded efforts to draft a compromise agreement which formed the basis of negotiations between senior members of both parties.
Then on Sunday night, Senate Minority Leader Chuch Schumer and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced the parties had reached a long-awaited deal.
Congressional leaders merged the $900 billion relief package with a $1.4 trillion government funding bill to speed up the proceedings. The legislation overall stretched 5,593 pages and encompassed a wide range of tax-and-spending measures reaching $2.3 trillion, making it one of the largest bills Congress had ever considered. It was only introduced hours before lawmakers voted on it.
The government spending bill will keep federal agencies open until Sept. 2021 and include many tax breaks for businesses as well. The nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation estimated the tax reductions were worth $150 billion.
The relief spending is nearly twice the amount of aid many Republicans wanted to spend heading into the 2020 election. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell threw his support behind a $500 billion economic aid plan which Democrats blocked twice in September and October.
Many Republicans were reluctant to support Democratic demands for additional spending because they did not want to increase the national debt. But Congressional Democrats have emphasized recently they will seek more federal aid once President-elect Joe Biden takes office. He released a statement on Sunday saying "our work is far from over."
"Congress will need to get to work on support for our COVID-19 plan, for support to struggling families, and investments in jobs and economic recovery," Biden said. "There will be no time to waste."
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