Congress finally reaches agreement on COVID stimulus package | GMA
Congress Approaches Agreement on New Economic Aid Package
In addition, a statement on the results of the Fed meeting is expected on Wednesday
The US Congress on Wednesday moved closer to agreeing on a new $ 900 billion economic aid package, a source familiar with the situation said. Initiative envisages new round of talks on incentive measures and extension of unemployment benefit premiums.
The agreement also aims to help state and municipal governments, the source said, although it is unclear in what form, as Republicans oppose direct payments..
The source added that “other options” are being discussed, but did not provide further details. The new bill is not expected to provide new protections for companies and universities from pandemic-related claims.
Congressional leaders made significant progress during Tuesday’s talks that dragged on late into the night.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he was optimistic.
“We have made significant progress in developing a targeted pandemic relief package,” McConnell said opening the Senate meeting. “We need money to distribute the vaccine, we need to resume the business assistance program to save jobs, we need to continue to support the unemployed.”.
“The issue is not yet closed, but we are very close (to an agreement),” said Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer.
The amount of direct payments to the population is still unknown.
In the meantime, the recovery of the US economy from the historic recession has clearly slowed. Consumer spending, which surpassed $ 3 trillion in the wake of the first rounds of economic aid in the summer and early fall, stopped rising in the fourth quarter due to the resumption of quarantine measures.
Commerce Department data released Wednesday showed retail sales fell unexpectedly in November, while consumer spending on goods and services generally fell.
The Federal Reserve is also holding a meeting to discuss whether additional stimulus is needed from it. The Fed has already cut interest rates to near zero and buys $ 120 billion of bonds monthly to keep borrowing costs low for consumers and businesses and to stimulate spending.
The Fed’s decision is expected on Wednesday afternoon. The head of the regulator Jerome Powell, who has repeatedly stated that additional fiscal stimulus is needed to support the economy, will talk about the results of the meeting at a press conference.