WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — For months, lawmakers failed to reach a deal on the next round of COVID-19 relief. But over the weekend, Congress approved a $900 billion package aimed at providing additional relief for millions of struggling Americans.
The bill includes another round of direct stimulus checks to most Americans, enhanced unemployment benefits, funds to help struggling small businesses, and billions for vaccine distribution and testing.
Sen. Jack Reed, D-Rhode Island, praised the bill for helping Americans who face eviction from their home just days before Christmas.
“The idea of putting people on the street, or in cars, or in other houses, is just going to exacerbate the COVID crisis,” Reed said.
Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Maryland, said while he’s pleased a deal was reached, it took far too long for lawmakers to compromise.
“We’re experiencing basically a 9/11 attack every single day by COVID-19,” he said. “It’s late, but we absolutely need it.”
Raskin called the bill, “better than nothing,” which describes the way many Democratic lawmakers are looking at the relief package.
“We need more,” Reed said. “This will only carry many Americans through the early spring.”
But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, said it was critical to pass the bill before the end of the year.
“None of us think this legislation is perfect,” McConnell said. “A big bipartisan majority of us recognize the incredible amount of good it will do when we send it to the president’s desk.”
President-elect Joe Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi are promising that the new administration, and the new Congress, will take action to deliver more relief early next year.