US Congress passes coronavirus aid package

The US Congress has passed a long-awaited $900bn package of coronavirus pandemic aid after months of political wrangling.

 

Senators approved the bill late on Monday, hours after it was passed by the House of Representatives.

 

The aid includes direct payments for many Americans and support for businesses and unemployment programmes.

 

The money is to accompany a bigger, $1.4tn spending bill to fund government operations over the next nine months.

 

President Donald Trump is expected to sign the package into law quickly.

 

President-elect Joe Biden welcomed the relief package but said Congress needed to get to work to support his Covid-19 relief plan in the new year.

 

In the House, the bill passed by a vote of 359 to 53 and in the Senate it passed by 92-6.

 

Many Covid-19 relief programmes were set to expire at the end of the month and about 12 million Americans were at risk of losing access to unemployment benefits.

 

But some lawmakers said they felt blind-sided by being asked to vote on a mammoth bill without even having a chance to read it.

 

At nearly 5,600 pages, the legislation was described by the Associated Press news agency as “the longest bill in memory and probably ever”.

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