Congress is rushing to pass a proposed COVID-19 relief bill as millions of Americans face losing their jobless benefits at the end of the month.
Lawmakers in Washington have been deadlocked over another stimulus package for months. Last week, however, key lawmakers appeared to make concessions in hopes a bill could pass before both chambers leave for the holidays.
Leaders in the House and Senate have restarted discussions and say the best chance in passing any relief is by adding it to the annual spending bill. But that would have to happen quickly because the House is scheduled to leave town at the end of the week.
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A potential deal is coming down to the wire as 12 million Americans are set to lose their unemployment benefits the day after Christmas. Eviction moratoriums for renters and protections for student borrowers are also set to expire, as well as a federal program for paid family leave.
Last week, a bipartisan group of lawmakers released a $908 billion aid proposal, which attracted the support of leading Democrats like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and some Republicans. It would provide temporary unemployment relief, along with aid for businesses and state and local governments.
Democratic leaders have backed the plan as health experts warn of a bleak winter. Despite progress toward a COVID-19 vaccine, cases are on the rise in all 50 states. The surge has led to the restriction of hours and the capacity of businesses across the country.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has proposed a separate, smaller $500 billion deal that focuses on helping businesses stay afloat while limiting their legal exposure to coronavirus-related lawsuits. It aims to also address a temporary extension of unemployment and provide vaccine distribution funding.
With a Dec. 11 government shutdown deadline looming, Congress is likely to vote on a one-week stopgap measure this week to fund the federal government to give lawmakers more time to strike a deal on emergency stimulus legislation. On Wednesday, the House plans to vote on the short-term measure to keep the government running through Dec. 18.
‘It’s a big scary mess’:12 million Americans to lose jobless aid after Christmas if Congress fails to act
Potential sticking points remain. State and local government support and business liability from coronavirus-related lawsuits are the biggest remaining issues in the relief package.
Here’s what the potential stimulus bill means for you:
Will it extend unemployment benefits?
There are two critical unemployment programs that are set to expire on Dec. 26: the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, which provides aid to self-employed, temporary workers and gig workers, and the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program, which provides…
Go to the news source: No stimulus checks but there’s extra jobless aid