Congress is finalizing a $900 billion relief package to avoid shutdown

Congressional leaders say they are close to finalizing a $900 billion stimulus package before Saturday's deadline to avoid a government shutdown, as an encore to the $2.3 trillion provided in April.

Congress is finalizing a $900 billion relief package to avoid shutdown

Congressional leaders say they are close to finalizing a $900 billion COVID-19 relief package before Saturday's deadline to avoid a government shutdown, as an encore to the $2.3 trillion provided in April. The package includes direct payments of $600 to individuals, up to $300 a week in enhanced unemployment insurance through March 2021, renewed funding for small businesses through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), over $25 billion in emergency rental assistance, funding for covid-19 vaccinations, funding for schools, $25 billion to help struggling renters, $45 billion for airlines and transit systems, a 15% increase in food stamp benefits, additional farm subsidies, and a $10 billion bailout for the Postal Service. It's highly likely lawmakers will need to work through the weekend or pass a stopgap bill to avoid a shutdown, according to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. "We made major headway toward hammering out a targeted pandemic relief package that would be able to pass both chambers with bipartisan majorities,” said McConnell on Wednesday. In April, the Fed announced an unprecedented $2.3 trillion stimulus package as the country faced record 14.7% unemployment, which fell to 6.7% in November as millions of people gave up on finding work. Of the 22 million jobs lost since April, only 12 million job have been recovered. President-elect Joe Biden called the stimulus package "encouraging" but reiterated that it was a “down payment” on additional relief once he takes office in January. The government will shut down on Saturday, December 19, leaving 12 million people without unemployment benefits the day after Christmas if lawmakers fail to act soon.