Senate Passes $900 Billion COVID Relief Bill. It's Now Headed to President Trump.

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Posted: Dec 21, 2020 11:53 PM
Senate Passes $900 Billion COVID Relief Bill. It's Now Headed to President Trump.

Source: AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley

Just before midnight Monday night, the United States Senate voted overwhelmingly to pass the $900 billion coronavirus relief package and the $1.4 trillion omnibus spending bill. The vote passed 91 to 7. 

The vote took place less than two hours after the House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly to pass the bill. 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell earlier on Monday vowed to get the COVID relief package done.

“Yesterday, leaders in the Senate, in the House, and the Secretary of the Treasury reached the major agreement that struggling Americans have needed for months," he stated. “We are going to pass another historic rescue package to help American families through this pandemic. We are going to pass full-year government funding so the Armed Forces and all federal departments have the resources and the certainty they need. And we are going to do both these things as soon as possible."

The news comes after a heated debate this weekend between Democrats and Republicans. A tentative agreement hit a snag when Sen. Pat Toomey's (R-PA) demanded to eliminate three loan programs the Federal Reserve launched in March to keep the economy afloat during the initial lockdown.

Under the CARES Act, a new corporate bond credit facility was established. This facility provided municipal and mainstream lending programs. They were set to expire on Dec. 31 but Democrats wanted to keep them in tact. The issue, according to Toomey, was none of the corporate programs were utilized and the others were underutilized when the private credit market continued its normal function. 

"We’ve never asked the Fed to engage in fiscal policy or social policy, or to allocate credit based on political standing," Toomey said on Saturday.

Once the deal was tentatively struck, Toomey spokesman Steve Kelly explained the compromise early Sunday morning.

"This tentative agreement is an unqualified victory for taxpayers. Senate Republicans achieved all four of our objectives regarding the CARES Act 13(3) Federal Reserve lending programs," Kelley said in a statement provided to Fox News. "This agreement rescinds more than $429 billion in unused CARES Act funds; definitively ends the CARES Act lending facilities by December 31, 2020; stops these facilities from being restarted; and forbids them from being duplicated without congressional approval."

"This agreement will preserve Fed independence and prevent Democrats from hijacking these programs for political and social policy purposes," Kelly concluded.

The bill, which is currently making its way to the Senate, would include $300 a week in unemployment benefits, another round of direct pay stimulus checks, as well as funding for schools, health care workers, vaccine distribution and small businesses.

It also includes a number of garbage spending items, like creating a "Climate Security Advisory Council," regulations surrounding horse racing, and a new office dedicated to "diversity."

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Monday said "people are going to see this money at the beginning of next week," assuming both chambers of Congress pass the bill.

The bill now heads to the White House for President Donald Trump to sign into law.