PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – The U.S. House of Representatives is expected to approve a $900 billion COVID Relief Bill with the U.S. Senate expected to follow. It’s a result of a compromise between a Republican Senate and a Democratic House.
U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle, the state’s senior Democrat, says the Relief Bill is a good start but doesn’t go as far as he would like.
“We passed a bill six months ago that would have provided comprehensive funding for western Pennsylvania, for state and local governments, and taken care of all the other needs out there, but unfortunately Senate Republicans just weren’t having it,” Doyle told KDKA political editor Jon Delano on Monday.
Doyle says to get Republican votes, Democrats had to trim their bill from $3 trillion in relief to under $1 trillion.
“We negotiated the best package we could,” said Doyle. “It has some very good elements for western Pennsylvania.”
Most individuals will get a one-time stimulus payment of $600 in the next few weeks: “Six hundred dollars. The income limit is $75,000 or $150,000 for [married couples with] joint returns. Dependents are eligible for $600 also.”
That’s $2,400 for a family of four.
Also included in the bill is the return of the $300 a week in additional federal unemployment benefits through early March.
“A lot of people are behind on their mortgage and their rent. This extra $300 a week is something that will help people because that program ended in July,” said Doyle.
For the one-third of Pennsylvanians who rent, there will be a new form of rental assistance unlike the last one when states gobbled up the money with the missed deadlines.
“We’d like to see this program get run down at the local level, at the county or city level,” he says.
Doyle says Congress is also extending the eviction moratorium until the end of January.
Another popular program this is being extended is the PPP, or Payroll Protection Plan, that gives grants to businesses that keep their employees on the payroll.
“We have now specifically targeted small mom and pop businesses and minority businesses,” said Doyle.
One sector that Doyle feels is getting short-changed: local restaurants.
“To help some of these restaurants be held harmless until the vaccine’s more widely distributed, I would have like to have seen that,” said the Forest Hills Democrat.