After months of dysfunction and deadlock, Congressional leadership reached a deal late Sunday night on an almost $1 trillion economic relief package. The bill includes stimulus checks of as much as $600 per person. The size of the benefit would follow the same guidelines from the CARES Act stimulus package and would be reduced for people who earned more than $75,000 in 2019 and disappear entirely for those who earned more than $99,000. The stimulus checks would provide $600 per adult and child, meaning a family of four could receive $2,400 if they fall within the income guidelines. The bill will also provide a $300 per week unemployment benefit increase for 10 additional weeks beginning as early as December 27.
Additional spending details of the stimulus include $325 billion in business relief, with $275 billion earmarked for another round of Paycheck Protection Program funding, $45 billion for transportation needs for states as well as Amtrak; $82 billion for schools, $20 billion for vaccine distribution, and $13 billion for food stamps expansion. The bill will extend a federal moratorium on evictions through January 31, 2021 and provide approximately $25 billion in emergency assistance to renters. The bill is expected to pass in both the House and the Senate as early as today and be sent to President Trump before the holiday break.
Meanwhile, on Beacon Hill, a long-rumored transition has begun: Robert A. DeLeo, the longest-serving Speaker in Massachusetts history, announced that he plans to leave the Legislature for Northeastern University. But don’t settle in for a protracted Speaker’s fight – DeLeo’s heir apparent, Quincy Democrat and current Majority Leader Ron Mariano, could push for a vote as soon as today. Mattapan state Representative Russell Holmes, a longtime critic of the insular leadership style of DeLeo and Mariano, announced his intention to challenge Mariano – though few expect he will gain much traction.
All the while, work continues in the lame duck legislative session. Testimony for bills regarding municipal issues are due to the Joint Committee on Public Service this morning. The Office of the Child Advocate will meet virtually to send their draft report to the Legislature and the Mass Legal Services COVID Eviction Legal Help Project will hold a virtual briefing this morning. Formal sessions are scheduled every day this week to address a variety of pertinent issues. including emerging conference committee reports on climate change, economic development and health care.
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