As the Christmas holiday neared and a government shutdown loomed, the opposing factions in Congress reached an agreement on a COVID relief bill. The final bill is a compromise, reflecting the continuing strength of the Republican majority. The bill totals around $900 billion and includes:
- A $300 supplemental unemployment benefit for at least 11 weeks;
- A $600+ stimulus check for qualifying individuals and family members;
- Re-institution of the Paycheck Protection Program with nearly $300 billion in funding and more carefully targeting to small businesses;
- Reimbursement to federal contractors for certain COVID-related paid leave expenses;
- Substantial support for vaccine distribution;
- Funds for some school and public transportation costs
No funds were directly included for state and local government, although unspent funds from some existing programs could be directed for that use. No employer liability protections were enacted and FFCRA leave programs were not extended, ending federal (but not all state) COVID paid leave programs.
Congress is also expected to approve the new budget before they recess.