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Congress approves $900 billion COVID-19 relief package, with millions allocated for foreign aid

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Congress passed a $900 billion pandemic relief package Monday night. Despite claims that this is an emergency package for Americans, a significant portion of funds is going towards foreign aid.

For example, Pakistan is set to receive up to $15 million for “democracy programs” and $10 million for “gender programs” and Sri Lanka will receive up to $15 million “for the refurbishing of a high endurance cutter,” a type of patrol boat.

Other countries set to receive aid include Vietnam, Afghanistan, Nepal, Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Columbia, Peru, Ecuador, Curacao, Trinidad, Tobago, Venezuela, Georgia and Ukraine.

Despite criticism from many Americans, the bill is expected to be signed by President Trump in the coming days.

The 5,593-page legislation — the longest bill ever passed — has been in negotiations for months.

The COVID-19 relief bill focuses on extending unemployment for Americans, providing stimulus checks and boosting small businesses.

The $900 billion relief package includes $284 billion in Paycheck Protection Program loans, $25 billion in rental assistance, extension of eviction moratorium, $82 billion for schools, an additional $300 per week supplemental jobless benefit and billions more for additional programs.

The bill contains $15 billion for theaters and other live venues, $10 billion for child care and $68 billion to purchase and distribute COVID-19 vaccines and help states conduct testing.

Lawmakers also agreed to provide $45 billion in transportation-related assistance, including $16 billion for airlines to pay the salaries of workers and contractors, $14 billion for mass transit agencies, $10 billion for highways and $1 billion for Amtrak.

$13 billion will be provided to farmers and agriculture, including money under the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program for growers and livestock, dairy and poultry producers.

Read the bill in full here.

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Economy

Illegal migrants refuse to leave Denver encampments, make demands of city including ‘fresh, culturally appropriate’ food and free lawyers

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A group of illegal immigrants in Denver is not only refusing to leave encampments, but also have the audacity to take no actions until the city meets its demands. The migrants were organized enough to publish a document with 13 specific demands before they “acquiesce to Denver Human Services’ request to leave the encampments and move to more permanent shelters funded by the city” reports Fox News.

Demands were made following the Denver government obtaining a petition to have the migrants moved, according to the outlet. The Denver mayor has been under pressure from the city’s ongoing migrant crisis, making headlines and receiving stiff backlash earlier this year for proposing budget cuts to the city’s government, including cuts to the city’s police force, to fund more money for dealing with the city’s migrant crisis.

The list of demands was sent to Mayor Mike Johnston and included requests for provisions of “fresh, culturally appropriate” food, no time limits on showers and free immigration lawyers, the outlet reported. Further details of the demands read, “Migrants will cook their own food with fresh, culturally appropriate ingredients provided by the City instead of premade meals – rice, chicken, flour, oil, butter, tomatoes, onions, etc… Shower access will be available without time limits & can be accessed whenever… Medical professional visits will happen regularly & referrals/connections for specialty care will be made as needed.”

The migrants also insisted they get “connection to employment support, including work permit applications for those who qualify,” as well as “Consultations for each person/family with a free immigration lawyer.” The migrants insisted that if these are not met, they will not leave their tent community.

“At the end of the day, what we do not want is families on the streets of Denver,” Jon Ewing, a spokesman for Denver Human Services, told Fox 31.

The current encampment is situated “near train tracks and under a bridge,” Fox 31 noted, adding that it has been there for the last couple of weeks.

Ewing told Fox 31 the city just wants “to get families to leave that camp and come inside,” noting its offer will give migrants “three square meals a day” and the freedom to cook.

He also said the government is willing to work with people to compromise and help them figure out what kind of assistance they qualify for.

Ultimately, Ewing said, the city wants to work with migrants to determine, “What might be something that is a feasible path for you to success that is not staying on the streets of Denver?”

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