WASHINGTON – House Democrats unveiled a $2.2 trillion COVID-19 relief bill in a long-shot push to break the impasse on negotiations before the election, though the bill is likely to face opposition in the Republican-controlled Senate if it passes the House.
Many of the benefits approved by Congress ran out this year, leaving millions of Americans waiting for urgently needed aid. The $600 federal unemployment benefit ran out in July, a loan forgiveness program for small businesses expired, and airlines warned of mass layoffs.
The bill, an updated version of legislation passed by House Democrats, would provide a round of $1,200 relief checks, reauthorize the small-business lending program, bring back the $600 federal boost to the unemployment benefit through January and provide assistance for the airline industry.
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The bill includes:
- $225 billion in education funding, with $182 billion for K-12 schools and about $39 billion for post-secondary education
- $120 billion in grants for restaurants
- $436 billion in assistance for state, local and tribal governments
- $75 billion for COVID-19 testing, tracing and isolation measures
- $15 billion in funding for the U.S. Postal Service
- Increased food assistance benefits
“Democrats are making good on our promise to compromise with this updated bill, which is necessary to address the immediate health and economic crisis facing America’s working families right now,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi wrote in a letter to Democrats as the bill was unveiled.
Moderate Democrats, many of whom face tough reelection contests, pushed congressional Democratic leaders for weeks to act on a pared-down COVID-19 relief bill before they leave for their scheduled recess before the election.
The House could act