US Congressional Lawmakers Agree To Long-Awaited $900-Billion COVID-19 Relief Bill (Update)

US Congressional Lawmakers Agree To Long-Awaited $900-Billion COVID-19 Relief Bill (Update)

U.S. lawmakers have agreed to the much-awaited stimulus bill to offset the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

What Happened: Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell first announced that the $900 billion deal had been reached. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in a press conference with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer welcomed the deal while also saying more should have been done for families suffering in the pandemic.

The text of the deal is not public yet, as the deal has not formally passed. Reports initially said a vote is expected tonight, but Reuters reports it may not come till tomorrow.
According to reports throughout the weekend, the deal was expected to include $600 direct payments to individuals and a $300 per week unemployment compensation supplement, half the respective amounts of the first stimulus bill, the $2.2 trillion CARES Act passed in March, and less than what Democrats had been pushing for.

CNBC reports that the deal also could include at least $300 billion for small business assistance including Paycheck Protection Program loans.

Reuters reported earlier today, citing sources briefed on the matter, that the bill was expected to include $15 billion in aid for airlines. The money would go toward the payrolls of some 32,000 laid-off workers.

The bill is attached to a $1.4 trillion federal spending bill that funds the government through September of next year. The risk of a government shutdown had grown in the weeks leading up to the vote, raising the possibility of a government further hamstrung amid the pandemic, a massive cyberattack and a contentious presidential transition.

Why It Matters: The earlier passage of the CARES Act and the Fed's intervention in the markets this year has greatly contributed to keeping the economy afloat and protecting people from the impact of the coronavirus-triggered recession — while also fueling a bull market that has caught many Wall Street veterans by surprise.

Lawmakers have been debating over the second bill's details since May, as Democrats and Republicans lined up in their traditional positions over amounts of spending. A dispute over the Federal Reserve's pandemic lending powers was settled late Saturday night, with Republicans winning out in ending those powers while giving in to Democrats' demand that remaining Fed emergency funds go toward other pandemic-related assistance in the new bill.

The financial stimulus comes as the numbers of new cases and deaths have reached record highs in the U.S. The COVID-19 death toll in the U.S., which has the worst rate in the world, now stands at above 316,000. Though stock markets have had a spectacular year, millions of Americans have been left jobless. Food banks have seen lines stretching far outside their doors during the holiday season beginning before Thanksgiving.

What's Next: The bill would next go to the White House where it is likely to be signed by the president.

Markets are likely to see a strong bounce from the news on Monday. Futures markets are already showing an upswing on the news.

Photo: Pixabay

Posted In: 2020Covid-19EconomystimulusU.S. CongressGovernmentNewsGeneral