Congress nears deal on $900 billion COVID-19 relief bill

Congress, capitol building
Posted at 4:30 PM, Dec 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-17 22:48:19-05

WASHINGTON — It’s been 265 days since the CARES Act was signed into law.

After months of stalemates and a second wave of the pandemic, congressional leaders are confident more COVID financial relief is finally on the way.

Ongoing negotiations between leaders on both sides of the aisle have crafted a roughly $900 billion relief package.

“We all said we weren't going to go home until this thing got don,e and thank goodness I think it is going to get done, and we may vote on it as early as Friday,” Rep. Fred Upton (R-Michigan) told FOX 17.

The $900 billion package would include extended unemployment benefits with an extra $300 per week.

The paycheck protection program would likely get a $300 billion boost.

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“We've got a lot of small businesses that are really hurting, and we've got to come back with yet another relief package that's going to help carry them into when we get out of this tunnel,” Upton said. "The light is finally beginning to shine."

The package would also include direct payments in the form of stimulus checks to most Americans, though as it stands right now they would be around $600, half the amount that came by way of the CARES Act.

The one-time payment is something progressive lawmakers say simply won’t cut it.

Massachusetts Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (D-Boston) tweeted, "Rent is due, food bank lines are around the block, temperatures are dropping and COVID cases are spiking. Our families are hurting and they need substantial, recurring survival checks. Now.”

Details are still being worked out but there’s confidence an emergency relief package will be passed by the end of the week.

“You are still going to have the hard right and hard left opposed to this for sure,” Upton added. "Hopefully, we can get this thing done, and then we can all come home for Christmas and start the next Congress on January 3."

There’s added pressure for lawmakers to get something done soon as the deadline for a spending bill to avoid a government shutdown is midnight Friday Dec. 18.