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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

Chevron downsizes global San Fran headquarters, paying for employees to move to Texas office

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Oil giant Chevron made a huge announcement saying it will be closing its current global headquarters in San Ramon, California. Even more telling, its encouraging employees to move to Houston, Texas.

The San Francisco Gate reported “the oil company will cover relocation costs for those voluntarily leaving for the Texas office, which has been growing and employs nearly 6,000 people. Meanwhile, the San Ramon office buildings have experienced dwindling numbers in recent years.”

Although the company is not leaving the state completely, “company leadership has pushed for a permanent move to Texas in the past” adds SFGATE. Chevron, which has had “deep roots” in California going back to the late 1800s, will vacate its 100-acre campus in 2023.

The Wall Street Journal reports the business hopes to move into a smaller space in San Ramon, which will remain its headquarters. A company spokesperson told SFGATE “the current real estate market provides the opportunity to right-size our office space to meet the requirements of our headquarters-based employee population.”

“The move is expected to occur during the third quarter of 2023” they continued. “Chevron will remain headquartered in California, where the company has a 140-year history and operations and partnerships throughout the state.”

The SFGATE notes Chevron is one of “the East Bay’s legacy companies joining the trend” to move their headquarters out of the area in recent years. Tech companies such as startups like Coinbase to industry pioneers like Hewlett Packard and Oracle have all vacated, with Elon Musk having been “one particularly outspoken voice decrying California’s business conditions.”

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