US parliamentarians on Monday approved a support plan for households and businesses affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, amounting to some $ 900 billion, deemed essential to get the world’s largest economy back on track.
After its approval by the House of Representatives and then by the Senate, the plan can now be submitted to President Donald Trump for signature.
“It is an emergency and survival program,” said Senate Democratic Minority Leader Chuck Schumer on Monday before the vote. Aid is incomplete and the Biden administration will have to “fill in the gaps” in January, he added.
However, “we should not underestimate the importance of this package” of measures, he noted, “the second most important in the history” of the United States.
After months of blockage, Democrats and Republicans announced on Sunday that they had reached an agreement in principle on a package of measures including, in particular, checks to the most vulnerable families, aid to small businesses and schools, additional unemployment benefits of 300 dollars. per week or an envelope for the equitable distribution of vaccines against Covid-19.
US parliamentarians had to finalize this agreement and approve it on Monday when the specter of a government shutdown is not excluded.
Indeed, Congress has decided to extend by 24 hours, until Monday midnight, the short-term law allowing the financing of federal administrations. Parliamentarians must therefore also find a consensus on the new finance law.
Checks from next week
Even before the vote on emergency aid measures for the economy, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin assured that checks for $ 600 per adult and per child to help families in difficulty would be sent at the start of the next week.
He also welcomed this aid which is released “just in time for the holidays” at the end of the year.
“It is a very, very fast way of injecting money into the economy”, further commented the minister of Donald Trump.
The objective of direct aid is in fact to support household consumption and therefore growth. For the households in greatest difficulty, they make it possible to pay the rent.
“We can end the year on a rare optimistic note,” said Chuck Schumer as the pandemic continues to rage in the country and the number of unemployed has started to rise again.
The world’s largest economy fell into a deep recession in the spring, the worst since that of the 1930s, due to the shutdown of activity to stem the new coronavirus which has caused massive unemployment.
The pandemic started again in the fall, putting a stop to job creation and summer activity.
“This is a first step, and we will have to do more,” reacted Monday Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic leader of the House of Representatives, noting in particular the need for more aid to buy vaccines.
However, this plan, which also includes housing assistance, will prevent millions of people who will lose their assistance on Boxing Day from falling into poverty.
The first plan, amounting to a gigantic $ 2.2 trillion, had been voted urgently at the end of March, during the first wave of the pandemic.
It included exceptional unemployment benefits of $ 600 per week and the sending of checks for $ 1,200 per adult.
Since the summer, Democrats and Republicans have been at an impasse, opposing the overall amount of the new emergency plan: the former demanded a plan equivalent to that of the spring when the latter wanted to limit it to 1 trillion dollars maximum.
The new aid package also targets small businesses at risk of going bankrupt.
It should also include some $ 16 billion in aid to save tens of thousands of jobs in airlines and their subcontractors.
“There was broad support from both parties to provide aid to companies,” Steven Mnuchin commented on Monday, stressing the importance of this industry for economic recovery.