US Congress passes $892bn in COVID relief measures

After months of partisan conflict, the United States Congress has approved a nearly $900bn emergency spending bill to tackle to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The COVID-19 relief bill provides $284bn for loans to small business to keep workers employed and $166bn for $600 one-time payments to most US citizens among other measures.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the top Democrat in the US Congress, called the bill “a first step” towards giving incoming President-elect Joe Biden the resources needed to “crush the virus”.

The House approved the measure by a vote of 359-53 and the Senate voted 91-7 to send the bill to President Donald Trump who is expected to sign it.


Terms of the bill were agreed in marathon negotiations among congressional leaders and the White House that ended with agreement over the weekend.

Among the provisions in the bill, it provides $3.36bn for GAVI, the international vaccine alliance, a partnership of the World Health Organisation, UNICEF, the World Bank and the The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation that provides vaccines to people in low-income countries.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a US television interview the Treasury Department would be sending out $600 checks to US citizens as soon as next week.

“It’s money that gets recirculated in the economy, so people go out and spend this money and that helps small business and that helps getting more people back to work,” Mnuchin told broadcaster CNBC.

The bill includes short term unemployment benefits, aid for the US airline industry, funding for vaccine distribution and help for urban and poor communities hit hardest by the virus.It does not go as far as a $3 trillion COVID-19 relief package the House approved in May that was rejected by Republicans who control the US Senate.


Among the sticking points, Democrats had sought $160bn in federal bailout funding for states and localities now seeing budget shortfalls because of precipitous declines in tax revenue from virus-related economic slowdowns.

Democrats and labour unions opposed a liability shield against COVID-19 related lawsuits that corporate interests and the Republicans wanted. The liability shield and funding for states and localities were left out of the compromise bill.

Related Articles

Back to top button