Financial help is coming to movie theaters. Sunday night, Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) announced he and three other Congressional leaders agreed to a $900 billion COVID-related relief package. The package will include upwards of $15 billion in funding that is to be used to help keep movie theaters and other live entertainment venues afloat through the end of the pandemic. While the bill has not been passed, it is the first time McConnell and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) have agreed on a stimulus package since this spring when the $2.2 trillion CARES Act was first passed.
Though the text of the bill has yet to be made public, the package will also include another round of direct payments — this time totaling $600 per adult. It should be noted this second bill has yet to be voted on, though it's expected the House will take it up and pass it on Monday before it heads to the Senate.
In addition to the live entertainment and direct payments, the bill will also extend enhanced unemployment benefits for 11 weeks. It will also include $25 billion for rent payment assistance and will extend a temporary moratorium on evictions. $7 billion is also included to help increase broadband infrastructure and to provide internet access for low-income and unemployed workers so that they may be able to work from home.
When the CARES Act was passed in March, the National Association of Theater Owners praised the passage, thanking Congress for providing additional funding at the time. Since then, Hollywood has been upended as studios and distributors place an enhanced focus on streaming products in case consumer confidence in theaters doesn't return anytime soon.
"We applaud the bipartisan agreement reached in the Senate today to provide relief to movie theaters their employees and so many other public-facing industries that have had to close their doors due to the COVID-19 pandemic," the group's statement read. "With this agreement, movie theaters can look forward with confidence to re-opening and once again serving their communities when this crisis has passed."
"With this aid, movie theaters can get through this crisis confident in being able to re-open, knowing their vital, trained workforce is able to weather this pandemic and have jobs waiting for them when it is safe to reopen," the statement added. "We are grateful for the work of Congress and the Administration and those, in and out of the entertainment industry who have supported our efforts on behalf of this industry that is so central to our culture and civic life. We look forward to its quick passage in the House and signature by the President."
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