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Lesson Plans

Classroom Resource: Congress closes in on a deal for an economic relief bill

December 17, 2020

Full Lesson



Directions: Watch the short video clip featuring reporting by Lisa Desjardins, then read the summary below and the articles linked within the summary, and then answer the discussion questions. To read a transcript of the video, click here

Summary: Lawmakers in Washington inched closer to an elusive deal on an economic relief bill during the pandemic, with both sides making concessions including the possibility of direct-payment checks to Americans.

  • The new bill is expected to include direct payments to adults of $600 and extend unemployment benefits, though won’t include money for state and local governments (which many Republicans rejected) or liability protection that would shield businesses from lawsuits over unsafe working conditions (which Democrats have opposed).
  • Last spring, Congress passed the CARES Act that included direct payments of $1,200 to most adults and extended unemployment benefits, among other stimulus. The Federal Reserve (the central banking system of the U.S. government) helped prop up the economy by offering loans to businesses struggling with reduced consumer spending.
  • While the United States is the wealthiest country in the world, critics have pointed to European nations providing 50, 75 and in some places 100% of a person’s income to their citizens each month since they are unable to work due to safety, health and economic reasons. These countries also provide their citizens with universal health care.


Warm up questions: 

  1. What is a stimulus bill and how would it help people?
  2. Who is negotiating over the bill?
  3. Why has Congress been unable to agree on a bill since the spring?
  4. When and where have negotiations taken place over the bill?
  5. How would failing to pass a bill impact the economy and the lives of individuals and families?

Focus questions:

  1. Why do you think Congress has failed to pass a relief bill since spring?
  2. What do you think are some of the consequences for your own community if no relief bill is passed?

Media literacy: Watch this short clip of a line of cars waiting outside of a Texas food bank if you haven’t already. What story does this video tell you that a story focusing on Congressional negotiations does not?


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