Though it’s been in the works for months, members of Congress had just hours to review the final text of the coronavirus relief deal reached by Congressional leaders over the weekend before a vote to pass it on Monday.
The much-needed relief bill comes as a deadly new surge of coronavirus is breaking records around the country and stalling the economic recovery, and is set to be passed just days before a series of relief measures — including unemployment insurance and a moratorium on some evictions and foreclosures — runs out.
But the COVID-19 relief deal, which will send new stimulus checks of $600 to many Americans and enhance unemployment benefits for jobless workers by $300 per week, is actually part of a much larger spending bill to fund the government known as an “omnibus,” and the final text was only released to members of Congress and the public on Monday afternoon.
At 5,593 pages, the bill was described by the Associated Press as “the longest bill in memory and probably ever.” Its sheer length makes it impossible for members to carefully read through it, and critics slammed the process in tweets on Monday.
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.— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) December 21, 2020
The delay was partially caused by technology glitches: Bloomberg News reported there were printing delays, and Politico later reported that congressional staffers were unable to get the entire document uploaded to the Internet.
It’s worse than printer delays.— Jake Sherman (@JakeSherman) December 21, 2020
They cannot get the Covid relief/govt funding bill uploaded to the internet. the computers keep bugging out, several sources told me. have heard about a corrupt file in education piece of the bill.
all sections need to be combined into 1 file
The total price tag of the bill clocks in at at least $2 trillion, but the no one yet knows the bill’s final cost. That’s because the legislation was introduced just hours before the expected votes, Congress’s nonpartisan scorekeeper, the Joint Committee on Taxation, won’t have time to publish an estimate of the total of all the credits, deductions, and special preferences before the bill likely becomes law, according to Bloomberg News.
In addition to the many provisions on COVID-19 relief, the behemoth bill packages a wide variety of measures big and small, including a human rights bill focused on Tibet, the establishment of two new Smithsonian museums, a provision on “doping” in horse racing, and a measure that seeks to protect patients from surprise medical bills. The bill also funds the federal government through Sept. 30 of next year.
The House is expected to vote on the legislation later Monday before it heads to the Senate, where Senate leaders hope to pass it by unanimous consent. President Trump has indicated he’ll sign the bill.
Material from the Associated Press and Bloomberg News was used in this report.