Months after passing its first round of economic stimulus, Congress finally approved a new COVID relief package on Sunday, worth around $900 billion. And while the price tag is slightly smaller than the $2.2 trillion law enacted in March, it still breaks records as one of the largest spending bills in American history.
The new deal renews stimulus checks for individuals, has enhanced federal unemployment payments, aid for small businesses, schools, and child care and provides funds for vaccine disbursement. Here’s a breakdown of the new package’s most significant features.
Back in March, millions of Americans got up to $1,200 in a direct payment from the government. The so-called “stimulus checks” were a popular and, in many cases, a critical part of the first stimulus bill. The new package includes a one-time payment of up to $600 for individuals making less than $75,000 a year. Both adults and children can qualify for the new payment, which means the exact amount will vary depending on household size. Additionally, those who make more than $75,000 will receive smaller payments on a sliding scale. And those earning more than $99,000 will not qualify for payments of any size.
The new bill extends federal unemployment benefits of up to $300/week. These benefits could initiate as early as December 27, and will run at least through March 14. But Congress will have to act again in the early months of 2021 to prevent another benefits cliff. Additionally, the new bill extends an unemployment program for contract and gig workers that are currently set to expire by year’s end.
Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)
Another popular asset of the initial relief package was the Paycheck Protection Program, which offered forgivable loans to small businesses in exchange for keeping employees on the payroll. The new bill includes more than $284 billion for first and second forgivable PPP loans. Additionally, it expands eligibility for the program to nonprofits and news outlets. It will also provide $15 billion for live venues, cinemas, and other cultural institutions.
Rental Assistance and Eviction Control
The new bill also extends a moratorium on evictions by a single month. They had been set to expire at year’s end. But President-Elect Joe Biden will have the authority to extend the freeze when he enters office in January. And the package includes $25 billion in emergency assistance for renters.
New to the package are billions of dollars for the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, as well as a national testing and tracing strategy. In a Sunday night statement, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said that the bill reserved billions “specifically for combating the disparities facing communities of color and to support our heroic health care workers and providers.”
For schools the bill stipulates $82 billion for HVAC repair and replacement at schools and universities. Such repairs aim to reduce the spread of the coronavirus through the air, with the hope of opening more classrooms in the new year. And finally, the package allocates $10 billion towards child care assistance.
Reprinted wiht permission from https://werax.com/congress-passes-900-billion-covid-relief-package-heres-whats-inside/
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