US Congress approves financial aid package in connection with COVID-19: details
On December 21, the U.S. Congress passed a massive bill including a $ 19 billion COVID-900 relief package and $ 1,4 trillion in annual government funding. Writes about it "Voice of America".
The House of Representatives approved the more than 5-page document in two votes. The first part was approved by 327 votes in favor with 85 against, and the second - 359 votes in favor, with 53 against. The Senate also approved this bill (92 - in favor of 6 - against).
The documents approved include a bill extending government funding for one week to avoid closure and give US President Donald Trump time to sign the bill.
One of the main and highly anticipated components of the bill is direct payments of $ 600 to most Americans.
$ 600 will be received by persons who earned up to $ 2019 in 75, couples who earned up to $ 000 will receive $ 150 of assistance. Further, the payment amount will gradually decrease - by 000% “for every dollar of income over these limits, or by $ 1 for every $ 200, writes CNBC... Assistance thresholds: $ 87 for individual taxpayers and $ 000 for couples. Those who have earned more than this will not receive help from the government.
US Treasury Chief Steven Mnuchin said millions of Americans may begin receiving checks as early as next week.
The bill will also provide $ 284 billion for the Payroll Protection Program. This program helps businesses maintain jobs at a time when the economic pressures of the pandemic could lead to additional layoffs.
The bill also includes $ 300 per week unemployment benefits to be paid over 11 weeks, $ 82 billion for local schools and universities, $ 25 billion in rent assistance, $ 15 billion for theaters, and $ 10 billion for care institutions. children.
In addition, it provides for the allocation of $ 4 billion to help other countries to vaccinate against COVID-19.
"There will be another major aid package for the Americans," said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. “Our citizens continue to fight COVID-19 even during the holiday season, and they will not do it alone.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said the bailout bill is just a first step.
"This is not the end of the story, not the end of the work," said Schumer. "Anyone who thinks this bill will be enough do not know what's going on in the US."
President-elect Joe Biden praised the spirit of cooperation between the two parties, which helped to develop what he says is "just the beginning."
The work on the bill was hampered by differences between Democrats and Republicans on key issues for both sides. They could not agree for several months.
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Despite attempts by the Republicans to include in the draft law measures to limit the legal liability of business, this did not happen. It also does not provide for the additional aid to state and municipal governments that Democrats have pushed for.
The COVID-19 Relief Bill is part of a broader budget package that will be funded by the US government through the end of September.
Officials at the White House have said Trump will sign the bill.
The first step
The $ 2,2 trillion CARES law, passed in March with the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, provided for direct payments of up to $ 1. Many Democrats and some Republicans have tried to achieve at least the same amount this time. Financial Times.
Democrats have spent most of 2020 calling for an increase in the aid package, but for months have been unable to come to terms with Republicans, who have largely pushed for more targeted aid.
In a letter to Democratic members of Congress, Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic House Speaker, said they should shift their focus to securing another round of aid in the new year.
“While we have recognized the urgent need for resources to suppress the virus so that we can safely open up our economies and schools, we must also recognize that more needs to be done,” Pelosi wrote, echoing calls for more funding for cash-strapped states and local communities. authorities.
“Today we are adopting this bill as a first step,” she added. "We have new hope that stems from the vaccine and President-elect Biden's commitment to science."
Families with mixed immigration status will also receive money
As part of the relief package, Congress intends to allow families with mixed immigration status to receive checks. In the CARES law, they were denied such a right, writes CBS News.
Under the bipartisan agreement, US citizens and green card holders will be able to receive $ 600 direct assistance even if they filed a joint tax return with an immigrant or illegal spouse, as well as additional checks for $ 600 for each dependent child.
The new compromise will also give mixed status families with one Social Security number holder eligible for checks for $ 1 per family and $ 200 per child under CARES.
Illegal immigrants or other non-US citizens who do not have Social Security numbers and do not file individual tax returns will still not be eligible for payments. Children who are US citizens who do not have a parent with a Social Security number are also not eligible for assistance.
The CARES Act, a historic economic aid package passed in the spring, excluded mixed-status couples from direct financial aid because it required both persons filing a joint tax return to have social security numbers.
Illegal immigrants and other non-citizens who are not eligible for Social Security numbers use government-issued Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers (ITINs) to pay taxes. DACA and Temporary Protected Status (TPS) members can get Social Security numbers.
The Migration Policy Institute, an independent think tank, estimates that 1,4 million spouses and 3,7 million children in mixed-status households are U.S. citizens or legally.
The expulsion drew widespread criticism and led to several lawsuits on behalf of US parents and children in mixed-status families. The provisions added to the new package to address this issue were supported by both Democrats and Republicans.
“The fix that was denying some American citizens federal assistance under the CARES Act was an omission that needed fixing,” said Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican. "No American should have been deprived of the opportunity to receive federal aid during a global pandemic because of who they married."
Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer endorsed Rubio's opinion.
“It was unfair and absurd that the millions of taxpayers who needed help to feed their families, had US citizens and worked on the front lines had no access to payments,” Schumer said.
Some human rights defenders welcomed the lifting of the ban on mixed families, but argued that entitlement to benefits was still not comprehensive enough.
“With 5,5 million immigrants at the forefront of the COVID-19 response as key workers, Congress must ensure that everyone is paid, regardless of immigration status,” said Kerry Talbot.
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