The U.S. Congress passed a $2.3 trillion omnibus bill Monday, Dec. 21, that includes $600 stimulus checks for eligible Americans.
The appropriations bill, which will also fund the federal government through Sept. 30, 2021, was passed by both the Senate and the House of Representatives and is now off to President Donald Trump’s desk.
“It’s been a difficult year for millions of families in Texas, and across the country, as parents have worried about how to pay bills and buy groceries, let alone Christmas gifts under their trees for their children,” said Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) after the bill passed. “I know this will not erase all the financial uncertainty, but it will go a long way to provide some help to those whose livelihoods have been thrown into chaos.”
The package includes $900 billion in COVID-19 relief, including direct assistance to Americans via $600 checks to individuals making up to $75,000, plus an additional $600 for each eligible child. A family of four making up to $150,000 would receive $2,400.
The bill also extends the eviction moratorium until Jan. 31, 2021, and provides $25 billion in temporary and targeted rental assistance for people who lost their jobs or income during the pandemic.
U.S. Rep. Roger Williams (R-Texas District 25) also praised the bill’s passage.
“This bipartisan legislation will ultimately have an immediate impact in the fight against and the recovery from COVID-19,” he said.
U.S. Secretary of Treasury Steve Mnuchin said on Monday that once the bill passes and gets the president’s signature, Americans could begin seeing the checks arrive as early as the week after Christmas.
The 5,593-page legislation includes many items for both COVID-19 relief and other government functions.
Williams said he was glad to see the spending package include $15 billion for the Save Our Stages Act, something he’s championed since July. The act would provide grants from the Small Business Administration to independent live music venues impacted by COVID-19, shutdowns, and safety restrictions.
“Live music venues were among the first to close and will be the last to reopen,” Williams said. “To ensure these cultural staples will continue in our communities for generations to come, I am proud the Save Our Stages Act is included in the bill to deliver much needed grants for independent live music venues nationwide.”
The bill also provides $48 billion for the purchase and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines nationwide and extends and replenishes the Paycheck Protection Program with $250 billion. The bill clarifies the PPP so that small businesses can deduct expenses paid with a forgiven PPP loan from their taxes.
Other funding for COVID-19 recovery includes:
$7 billion for broadband expansion, with $732 million designated for rural areas
$250 million for telehealth
$10 billion for childcare centers
$54.3 billion to help elementary and secondary schools safely reopen or remain open
$22.7 billion to support students and institutions of higher learning
Other provisions include:
3 percent pay raises for military members
$1.375 billion for border security funding, including additional technology
authorization for the Smithsonian Institution to create a museum honoring American Latinos
incentives research and development of carbon capture technology for natural gas to ensure a reliable, affordable, and environmentally sound energy supply