Congress releases 5,593-page COVID-19 stimulus bill

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Congressional leaders on Monday released the text of a 5,593-page COVID-19 stimulus package hours before a midnight government funding deadline.

The massive legislation is one of the longest bills ever considered, but is expected to pass swiftly over back-bench grumbles.

The bill contains $600 stimulus checks for most Americans with another $600 per child, a $300 weekly unemployment supplement and $284.4 billion in forgivable small-business Paycheck Protection Program loans.

The stimulus checks are means-tested, with people earning more than $75,000 — or $150,000 per married couple filing jointly — getting less money, and people earning over $95,000 getting nothing.

The $600 child stimulus check is slightly more generous than the $500 authorized by Congress in March, while the amount for adults is half the size as the initial round.

The new unemployment supplement is also half as large as the $600 weekly boost that expired in July. President Trump temporarily and partially restored the supplement at $300 per week with an August executive order.

The package was brokered by party leaders and the White House after a long-running impasse and many details are contentious and seemingly unrelated to the pandemic.

For example, the bill creates new penalties for violating copyright laws with unauthorized online streaming, controversially creating felonies punishable by five years for first offenses and 10 years in prison for repeat offenses.

Previous attempts to increase punishments for online piracy led to bipartisan revolts and massive grassroots and corporate lobbying campaigns that persuaded lawmakers to postpone plans. The stimulus bill language was pushed by Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC).

Some legislators said they were concerned about passing such a large bill without a meaningful opportunity to review it.

Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) tweeted: “5,600 pages. Votes are still expected today on this legislation. No one will be able to read it all in its entirety. Special interests win. Americans lose.”

New York Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who represents parts of the Bronx and Queens, tweeted shortly before the text came out, “Congress is expected to vote on the second largest bill in US history *today* – $2.5 trillion – and as of about 1pm, members don’t even have the legislative text of it yet.”

She added: “It’s not good enough to hear about what’s in the bill. Members of Congress need to see & read the bills we are expected to vote on. I know it’s ‘controversial’ & I get in trouble for sharing things like this, but the people of this country deserve to know. They deserve better.”

But party leaders said the package was a good deal. In an exclusive interview with The Post, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) touted the bill’s provisions to aid the Big Apple.

“There’s $1 billion for mass transit, which is what the MTA said they needed to avoid significant cutbacks, and there’s going to be significant money for schools,” he said.

In a Fox News interview, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said, “It’s directly targeted at exactly what the country needs right now.”

The pre-Christmas push for relief comes as officials again order businesses to close due to rising infections. Recent news coverage has focused on long food lines and pleas from restaurant owners who say they’re at risk of permanently closing. An estimated 12 million people face loss of unemployment benefits Dec. 26 without legislation.

President Trump is expected to sign the bill if it passes as expected Monday night.



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