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Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-VA) speaks at the podium standing with members of the Problem Solvers Caucus to praise passage of the bipartisan emergency COVID-19 relief bill in a press conference  (AFP)
Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-VA) speaks at the podium standing with members of the Problem Solvers Caucus to praise passage of the bipartisan emergency COVID-19 relief bill in a press conference (AFP)

US House passes $900 billion Covid relief package

The relief package, unveiled Monday afternoon, sped through the House in a matter of hours.

The House easily passed a USD 900 billion pandemic relief package Monday night that would finally deliver long-sought cash to businesses and individuals and resources to vaccinate a nation confronting a frightening surge in COVID-19 cases and deaths.

Lawmakers tacked on a USD 1.4 trillion catchall spending bill and thousands of pages of other end-of-session business in a massive bundle of bipartisan legislation as Capitol Hill prepared to close the books on the year.

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The lopsided 359-53 vote was a bipartisan coda to months of partisanship and politicking as lawmakers wrangled over the relief question, a logjam that broke after President-elect Joe Biden urged his party to accept a compromise with top Republicans that is smaller than many Democrats would have liked.

The relief package, unveiled Monday afternoon, sped through the House in a matter of hours. A Senate vote that would send the bill to President Donald Trump appeared likely to follow soon.

The bill combines coronavirus-fighting funds with financial relief for individuals and businesses. It would establish a temporary $300 per week supplemental jobless benefit and a $600 direct stimulus payment to most Americans, along with a new round of subsidies for hard-hit businesses, restaurants, and theaters and money for schools, health care providers and renters facing eviction.

The 5,593-page legislation — by far the longest bill ever — came together Sunday after months of battling, posturing and postelection negotiating that reined in a number of Democratic demands as the end of the congressional session approached. President-elect Joe Biden was eager for a deal to deliver long-awaited help to suffering people and a boost to the economy, even though it was less than half the size that Democrats wanted in the fall.

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