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Congress may be close to agreeing on a package of stimulus checks and unemployment assistance

Congress may be close to agreeing on a package of stimulus checks and unemployment assistance

Direct payments would be included in the base agreement of $908 billion. Top congressional leaders are close to agreeing on a pandemic financial assistance package that could extend aid to individuals, businesses, and enable assistance to millions of people.

The bill would include a new round of stimulus checks, increased federal unemployment insurance benefits and resources to be directed to states and localities.

Senator Joe Manchin, co-author of the bipartisan $908 billion package, said negotiators would be close to reaching agreement on legislation that would extend direct payments of up to $600 to most Americans through March.

“I think they’re basically putting it all together now,” Manchin told CNN. “We were able to break the deadlock.

South Dakota Senator John Thune confirmed the likely addition of direct payments as well as a $300 per week federal unemployment benefit bonus to partially replace the $600 per week benefit that expired this summer.

“We made a breakthrough in putting together a bipartisan aid package,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Also in Congress, another temporary spending bill would be agreed upon to prevent a midnight shutdown of the government on Friday so negotiators could achieve a one-year, $1.4 billion funding bill.

Talks about aid have intensified in recent days as legislators seek to avoid going home for the Christmas holidays empty-handed.

Democrats have pushed for a more ambitious package that would extend unemployment benefits, help hospitals and schools, and include money for state and local governments struggling to balance their budgets because of the pandemic.

The Politico site anticipates that the proposal would include $325 billion in aid to small businesses and $257 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program that would help employers keep workers who might otherwise become unemployed.

However, McConnell has opposed state and local government assistance and has insisted that a new bill must include provisions that protect businesses from pandemic-related lawsuits. In an effort to reach a settlement, both sides indicated on Tuesday night that they were willing to agree on both issues.

In campaign

President-elect Joe Biden was in Atlanta Tuesday to campaign for Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, and said a new stimulus package “should give people direct cash payments right away, when they need it most to stay on their feet. Biden expressed support for a package that would include assistance to state and local governments and resources for pandemic testing and vaccination.

The president-elect also warned citizens that a vote for Republicans David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler would represent “a block on economic assistance” if they were re-elected.

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