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US Congress passes relief package

作者:admin 2020-12-24


 
US Congress passes relief package

The White House Photo: Xinhua


 
US lawmakers on Monday approved a $900 billion relief package for the world's biggest economy that will provide a long-sought boost for millions of Americans and businesses battered by the coronavirus
pandemic.

Overwhelming approval in the Senate and House of Representatives clears the way for the legislation to be sent to President Donald Trump to be signed into law.

As the COVID-19 death count rises amid a massive resurgence of the virus that further threatens the economy, Republican and Democratic legislators finally hammered out a bill after months of wrangling and partisan finger-­pointing.

The deal will spare millions of jobless workers who were days away from seeing their unemployment benefits expire, and provide a new round of cash payouts.

Small businesses will benefit from more government grants, while the package also includes rental assistance and help to families facing eviction.

The US is facing the world's largest coronavirus outbreak, and the virus has surged in recent months, threatening a ­tentative economic recovery. The death toll has topped 319,000.

The massive package is part of a $2.3 trillion "coronabus" bill that includes a so-called omnibus bill to fund the government for the coming year.

The measure will include a new round of pandemic relief payments, and US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the $600 checks will go out as early as next week.

That amounts to "$2,400 for a family of four, so much needed relief just in time for the holidays," Mnuchin said Monday on CNBC.

While the direct payments are only half the amount provided by the $2.2 trillion CARES Act that Congress approved in March, Mnuchin said it is a "very fast way of getting money into the economy."

The $600 payments go to Americans earning less than $75,000 a year, and will be reduced for higher incomes, while those who bring home $99,000 or more will not get a check.

The largest provision is the $275 billion in Paycheck Protection Program aid for businesses, which are government loans that convert to grants if spent on wages and rent.

US President-elect Joe Biden received a COVID-19 vaccine live on television Monday in a campaign to boost Americans' confidence in the jabs - and in marked contrast to Trump's mixed messaging.

The 78-year-old incoming president got the Pfizer vaccine at the Christiana Hospital in Newark, Delaware.

Biden told Americans "there's nothing to worry about" when they get vaccinated and that in the meantime they should keep wearing masks and "listen to the experts."



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Posted in: AMERICAS,WORLD FOCUS

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