NC lawmakers pass $1 billion COVID-19 relief bill, now heads to Gov. Cooper’s desk

NC lawmakers pass $1 billion COVID-19 relief bill, now heads to Gov. Cooper’s desk
The outside of the North Carolina General Assembly building is seen in this undated photo. (Source: Nick Ochsner)

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – The North Carolina House passed a COVID-19 relief bill Thursday morning that spends about $1 billion in response to the pandemic, including sending stimulus payments to parents.

The bill passed by the Senate on Wednesday a 44-5 margin.

House vote was 104-10.

The bill now goes to Gov. Roy Cooper (D) but it is unclear if he will sign it.

Republican leaders in the General Assembly unveiled the Coronavirus Relief Act 3.0 earlier this week, including $335 in direct payments to households that have at least one child.

“I know $335 isn’t gonna pay off a mortgage, but it’ll put a dent in the cost of electronic devices or help pay for a tutor,” said Senate Leader Phil Berger (R). “I really am not worried about how parents will spend that $335. All I know is they need it. They deserve it.”

The legislature reconvened this week to vote on how to spend about $903 million in remaining funding from the federal CARES Act, which Congress required be spent by the end of the year.

The stimulus payments will cost about $440 million, according to Senate Republicans.

Democrats tried unsuccessfully to make various changes to the relief bill Wednesday, including expanding Medicaid and boosting unemployment benefits higher than Republicans have supported.

“We’ve got our priorities and that’s public education, that’s Medicaid expansion and investments in unemployment insurance. And, we don’t have that in this budget,” said Sen. Wiley Nickel (D-Wake). “Helping people, stimulating the economy is good. But, the question is, what are we not doing by giving money to families?”

Republicans included a temporary increase to state unemployment benefits of $50 per week, which would last until the end of the year. That’s in addition to $300 per week in federal benefits recently authorized by President Donald Trump in an executive order.

If the bill ultimately becomes law, the $335 stimulus payments would be distributed by Dec. 15.

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