Just in time for Christmas, Congress poised to pass COVID relief bill


WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — Lawmakers on Capitol Hill have finalized a massive $900 billion COVID-19 relief package, just in time for Christmas.

The bill is designed to help Americans hit hardest throughout the pandemic — the second largest federal aid package in U.S. history.

Democrats say the package won’t be the last relief Americans will receive from Congress. Yet Michigan Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow says it’s a bridge into the New Year.

“We really have a hunger crisis right now,” Stabenow said. “All we have to do is look at folks sitting in their cars, waiting hours to get a box of food.”

After months of gridlock, Democrats and Republicans have finally agreed on a $900 billion emergency COVID relief package. The plan extends unemployment benefits and eviction protections, expands food assistance and includes billions for small businesses, schools and vaccine distribution.

Kansas Republican Congressman Dr. Roger Marshall says reaching a deal was truly a matter of life and death.

“This is a bridge to get us through the middle of March,” Marshall said.

On the Senate floor Monday, Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blamed Democrats for the delay.

“Senate Republicans have been trying since July to get more targeted, bipartisan relief,” he said.

But Missouri Republican Sen. Josh Hawley says the bill’s target is off and slammed both sides for settling on just $600 direct stimulus checks — half of what he wanted.

“Twenty billion dollars for higher education, and yet we cannot find any further funds to help working people,” Hawley said.

Illinois Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin says the smaller package will meet Americans’ needs — for now.

“This experience this year was disappointing in some respects,” he said. “We have more work to be done.”

Democrats say they will work to pass another relief package in the early days of the new Biden administration.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin says those who qualify for the $600 checks could receive them as early as next week.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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