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Congressional leaders reach deal on new COVID-19 stimulus relief package

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Dan McCaleb | The Center Square

(The Center Square) – Congressional leaders have agreed to a new stimulus package that will provide more aid to struggling small businesses and send a second round of direct payments to Americans.

Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and others confirmed the $900 billion coronavirus relief deal Sunday night.

If approved by Congress and signed by President Donald Trump, the measure will include $600 in direct payments to adults and children from qualifying households, more than $280 billion in forgivable loans to small businesses through a renewed Paycheck Protection Program, and $300 a week in federal unemployment benefits on top of state benefits.

"I believe I can speak for all sides when I say I hope and expect to have a final agreement nailed down in a matter of hours," McConnell said on the Senate floor. "At this point, we're down to the last few differences that stand between struggling Americans and their major rescue package they need and deserve."

The proposed legislation also includes about $25 billion in rental assistance and an extension of an eviction moratorium put in place earlier this year, which is was set to expire this month. An additional $82 billion would be set aside for schools and colleges to prepare to safely reopen classrooms.

It also would help pay for the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. Moderna's vaccine was approved for emergency use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Friday, a week after Pfizer's vaccine also received emergency use authorization.

"We are going to crush the virus and put money in the pockets of the American people.", House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a joint statement.