United States lawmakers to vote on Covid relief package worth over 700bn euros

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United States Concress was poised on Monday to approve an economic stimulus package worth 900 billion dollars, equivalent to about 739 billion euros, that would provide aid for individuals and businessed hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

The bill would see direct payments made to most Americans and expand a lending programme for small businesses and inject funds into schools, airlines, transit systems and vaccine programmes.

Democratic and Republican leaders of the House of Representatives and the Senate said Sunday they expected the bill to pass with broad support, and the White House said President Donald Trump would sign it into law.

President-elect Joe Biden said he supported the bill and urged Congress to consider further stimulus for him to sign into law after he takes office on 20 January.

“My message to everyone out there struggling right now, help is on the way,” Biden said in a statement.

Second-largest stimulus package

The package would be attached to a larger effort to fund US government activity through September 2021 worth 1.4 trillion dollars (about 1.1 trillion euros).

It would be the second-largest stimulus package in US history, behind the 2.3-trillion-dollar (1.9-trillion-euro) fund that Congress approved to deal with the fallout of the first wave of infection in March.

The Covid-19 pandemic is accelerating in the United States, infecting well over 200,000 people every day and slowing economic recovery.

The US has the highest official Covid death toll of any country, with more than 317,000 Americans having died after being infected by the coronavirus causing the disease.

What is in the package?

The new bill reprises and expands upon measures of the earlier package, with aid extended to small media, theatres and live music venues.

Unemployed workers would bet an extra 300 dollars (247 euros) per week through march, down from the 600-dollar (493-euro) increase of the first bill.

It would establish a direct 600-dollar stimulus payment to most Americans, also half what the earlier plan issued.

A ban on evictions, due to expire at the end of the year, would be extended to the end of January.

Lawmakers set aside months of gridlock on talks over the package to produce the proposals on Sunday.

(with newswires)