In the USA Today, Jessica Menton sums up the 2nd U.S. COVID-19 Stimulus deal that has recently been passed in Congress. According to the writings, millions of Americans will be receiving stimulus checks by as early as next week. Here’s the report:
Lawmakers struck a roughly $900 billion COVID-19 stimulus deal that includes another round of stimulus checks and badly needed jobless benefits for struggling Americans, ending a long standoff in Washington with one of the biggest rescue bills in U.S. history.
After months of impasse, negotiations came down to the wire as 12 million people are set to lose unemployment benefits the day after Christmas. The deal includes restarting a $300 boost to the federal unemployment insurance benefit, extending eviction moratoriums for renters by a month and a $600 direct payment to most Americans, according to the 5,600 page text of the bill.
Even though lawmakers reached a deal, some jobless Americans could see their unemployment benefits lapse because outdated state systems could slow down the distribution of aid, experts say.
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The measure will help Americans in the near term, but it stops short of mitigating the economic fallout that households have endured during the pandemic, some economists and unemployment experts say. The final bill provides five fewer weeks of unemployment benefits than the compromise reached by a bipartisan group of senators earlier this month.
The measure was tied to a $1.4 trillion spending bill to fund federal agencies and programs through Sept. 30, the end of the fiscal year.
The Senate resoundingly passed the package late Monday, sending the bill to Trump to sign.
Here’s what is in the stimulus package:
Will I get another stimulus check?
The measure contains a $600 direct payment to Americans who earned up to $75,000 in 2019. That is less than the $1,200 checks approved in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act in March.
It provides $600 per child, up from $500 in the spring. The bill also includes $1,200 for couples making up to $150,000 a year.
The size of the benefit would be reduced for those earning more than $75,000, or $150,000 per married couple, similar to the last round of stimulus checks.
The amount will decrease by $5 for every $100 of income above those thresholds, phasing out entirely at $87,000 for individuals and $174,000 for couples.
There is no cap on the number of children a household can claim, so a family of four would receive up to $2,400.
When will stimulus checks be sent?
The government will begin to send out direct payments to millions of Americans next week, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Monday.
“People are going to see this money the beginning of next week,” Mnuchin said in a CNBC interview. “This is a very, very fast way of getting money into the economy. People go out and spend this money, and that helps small businesses. And that helps getting more people back to work.”
Mnuchin said the government would begin sending the money out via direct deposit next week. In the spring, physical checks were mailed to Americans who didn’t have a bank account or for those the federal government didn’t have direct deposit information.
Are immigrant families eligible for checks?
Mixed-status households, or those where a family member doesn’t have a Social Security number, will be eligible for stimulus payments, a key change from the CARES Act.
Those without Social Security numbers, typically unauthorized immigrants, still aren’t eligible. But it would allow U.S. citizens who are married to foreign nationals without Social Security numbers to receive the aid.
Are unemployment benefits extended?
The bill would extend all pandemic unemployment programs set to expire at the end of December by 11 weeks through mid-March, less than the 16 weeks that a bipartisan plan had called for earlier this month.
The deal came as two unemployment programs were set to end on Dec. 26: the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, which provides aid to self-employed, temporary workers and gig workers; and the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program, which provides an additional 13 weeks of benefits beyond the typical 26 weeks that states provide to jobless workers.
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Are there enhanced unemployment benefits?
The measure would provide a federal unemployment benefit of $300 a week for up to 11 weeks through mid-March, less than the $600 provided under the CARES Act.
Is the extra $300 retroactive?
No, the federal supplement isn’t retroactive.
Why will some workers get an extra $100 on top of the $300 bonus?
The bill also would give an additional federal benefit of $100 a week to those who earned at least $5,000 a year in self-employment income but are disqualified from receiving a more generous Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefit because they are eligible for state jobless aid, according to The New York Times.
Some workers who have both wage (W-2) and self-employment (1099) income will be eligible for an additional $100 a week if their state offers it. It’s unclear how states will determine eligibility for recipients. The bonus would be on top of the $300-per-week supplement and would last until mid-March.
Many independent contractors and self-employed workers may have been receiving smaller unemployment checks, experts say, since their payments were based on wages from their W-2 tax forms that didn’t include their self-employment income, which could be higher.
Is paid sick leave included?
The agreement provides a tax credit to support employers offering paid sick leave, based on the framework of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, enacted in March, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said in a statement.
Families First required many employers to provide workers with two weeks of sick leave related to COVID-19 at full pay, and up to 12 weeks of family and medical leave to care for family members at two-thirds pay.
As many as 87 million workers could lose access to emergency paid leave at the end of the month. If those benefits aren’t extended, it would limit workers’ ability to stay home to quarantine after COVID-19 exposure, or care for a child whose school or day care is closed.
It’s unclear whether the measure would still require companies to offer paid sick leave to workers who have COVID-19, or those caring for children after school closures.
Are eviction moratoriums extended?
Yes. It would offer $25 billion in emergency rental assistance and provide an extension of eviction moratoriums by one month through Jan. 31.
The loss in jobless aid and other stimulus relief would have put 30 to 40 million people at risk of eviction as moratoriums were set to expire in January, according to the Aspen Institute, a think tank.
Will student loan forbearance continue?
The bill doesn’t extend a freeze on payments and interest for federal student loan borrowers, which will affect millions of borrowers who face resuming payments as early as February.
In March, the CARES Act gave 42 million borrowers relief during the pandemic.
Earlier this month, Trump paused federal student loan payments for another month through Jan. 31.
What else is in the package?
The package includes an extension of the small business Paycheck Protection Program, which expanded eligibility to local newspapers, broadcasters and nonprofits. It will direct another $20 billion to small business grants and $15 billion to live event venues.
The measure increased funding for vaccine distribution and coronavirus testing.
It also provided $13 billion in increased benefits for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP.
- Jessica Menton