After both houses of Congress passed a $908 billion COVID-19 stimulus package on Monday night, Massachusetts lawmakers pledged to continue fighting for more aid after President-elect Joe Biden takes office in January.
The lawmakers touted Democrats’ efforts to secure, at minimum, direct cash payments to Americans and rental and food assistance in the final stimulus deal, which comes nine months after the $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The new aid package also includes enhanced unemployment benefits through the spring, billions of dollars for small business loans and funds for health care facilities and schools.
But the overwhelming message from the Massachusetts delegation is that more must be done — and soon. The lawmakers lashed out at Republicans for delays and for refusing to provide funding to states and municipalities hit with budget shortfalls and layoffs.
...The $908 billion package, expected to be signed by President Donald Trump this week, will deliver $600 stimulus checks to tens of millions of Americans earning less than $75,000, as well as $600 for each child dependent. For more on when checks will arrive and who’s eligible, read here.
...The bill also includes an extra $300 in weekly unemployment insurance through mid-March; $284 billion in forgivable small business loans through the Payroll Protection Program; $20 billion in economic injury disaster loans in low-income communities; and $15 billion to live venues, independent movie theaters and other cultural businesses and nonprofits.
...Rep. Katherine Clark highlighted that the stimulus package included $10 billion for child care providers and $250 million to help Head Start program providers impacted by the pandemic. The bill also includes $69 billion for vaccine production and distribution, and coronavirus testing and tracing, she noted.
“This bill is way too late and way too little, but it does extend a bridge to a brighter tomorrow when the incoming Biden administration will work with the House to advance policies grounded in science and compassion,” she said.
...Democrats in the House approved a roughly $3 trillion stimulus package in mid-May, but the bill went nowhere in the Senate. Republicans have repeatedly proposed more targeted measures, with several expressing concerns over the rising deficit.
In the deal reached over the weekend, Democrats held off on repeated demands for state and local aid, while Republicans relented on a push for liability protections that would have shielded businesses from COVID-19-related lawsuits.
Original story here.