After a long delay, the United States Congress has at last approved a $900 billion package of coronavirus pandemic aid, authorising financial help to individuals and businesses as the pandemic persists.
The US Senate gave a nod to the bill late on Monday, after its approval by the lower house. The bill was passed by the House of Representatives by a vote of 359 to 53 and the Senate by 92-6.
The package includes direct payments for many Americans and support for businesses and unemployment programmes. The package is a part of $1.4 trillion spending bill to fund government operations over the next nine months. It is still to be ratified by President Donald Trump.
Meanwhile President-elect Joe Biden welcomed the relief package.
He tweeted: “I applaud this relief package, but our work is far from over. Starting in the new year, Congress will need to immediately get to work on support for our COVID-19 plan. My message to everyone out there struggling right now: help is on the way.”
At nearly 5,600 pages, the legislation was described by the Associated Press news agency as “the longest bill in memory and probably ever.”
The aid package includes one-off $600 payments to most Americans, and will boost unemployment payments by $300 per week, extending expiration dates for the jobless programmes until the spring. It also contains more than $300 billion in support for businesses, as well as money for vaccine distribution, schools, and tenants facing eviction. The package includes $25 billion in rental aid, and has extended an eviction moratorium that was due to expire at the end of this month. The bill also has a provision to end surprise medical billing.