Following nearly eight months of negotiations, Congressional leaders finally reached an agreement over the next coronavirus relief deal. At $900 billion, it falls considerably short of the $2.2 trillion CARES Act and the $3 trillion HEROES Act.
“Clearly, the (current agreement) is what was politically possible,” Rob Fischer, an associate professor at the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences at Case Western Reserve University, told US News My Money.
Although the offer doesn’t include funding for state and local governments, Fischer noted that for families, “It is absolutely helpful.”
Angelo McClain, the CEO of the National Association of Social Workers, agreed, but only to an extent. “It’s a relief knowing the package helps put food on the table, pay rent and avoid eviction for millions of families. Hopefully, all members of Congress understand that this relief package is insufficient and should be viewed as a down payment.”
Here’s what you should know about the next stimulus package, according to US News My Money.
Another Round of Stimulus Checks
Some Congressional leaders objected to the second round of direct payments, calling instead for more targeted aid. Ultimately, the checks made the cut, but at only $600, they are half the size of the first payments provided under the CARES Act.
According to the bill, single filers earning $75,000 or less per year will receive the full $600. Workers who made $75,000 to $99,999 in 2019 will receive $5 less for every $100 over the threshold. Dependents 17 and younger will qualify for $600, though adult dependents claimed by their parents will not.
The IRS will distribute stimulus checks after the first of the year. While having that money at the beginning of the year will be helpful, Paul Miller, a managing partner at Miller & Company LLP, notes that the government passed up a chance to make a far more significant impact.
“It should have happened last week so people could feel good going into the holidays,” he told US News My Money. Approving the stimulus package sooner could have given consumer confidence a much-needed boost before the holidays and contributed to more sales at retailers and restaurants.
More Supplemental Unemployment Benefits
Under the new stimulus deal, jobless Americans will receive an additional $300 in federal unemployment benefits until March 14, 2021.
Enhanced unemployment payments could be more helpful than the stimulus checks, Fischer said. “You can only do so much with $600,” he remarked. The extra $300 offer months of consistent relief.
Lawmakers also agreed to renew the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) programs, giving supplemental payments to recipients who exhausted regular state insurance and will last as long as 50 weeks. Pushing the deadline for these programs will prevent nearly 14 million jobless Americans from losing unemployment benefits.
In addition, the bill ensures that the self-employed and other nontraditional workers will receive assistance through the PUA program. Some part-time workers who supplement their income with gig work might qualify for an additional $100 each week.
Loans For Small Businesses
Lawmakers earmarked $284 billion to renew the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which offers forgivable loans to qualifying business owners who maintain their payrolls. Under the new offer, nonprofits, tourism marketing groups, and local media outlets will also be eligible for PPP loans.
According to Brock Blake, the founder and CEO of Lendio, “There is no doubt the Paycheck Protection Program helped save workers from losing their jobs, at least for some part of the year. While there could be more done for small business owners who have been disproportionately impacted in specific industries and communities, any amount of relief is good.”
Funding For Nutrition Assistance
The next stimulus package could raise the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits by 15%, thanks to $13 billion in funding. With unemployment still at an unprecedented level, many Americans might depend on SNAP for the first time. More funding could help households get more from their benefits.
Protections For Renters
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) ordered a temporary eviction ban in September. Still, it only applied to tenants who met specific income requirements and could not afford their rent bill due to a significant income disruption. This measure would have lapsed at the end of the month, but the new bill would delay the ban until January 31, 2021.
Additionally, it provides $25 billion for federal rental assistance. Local and state governments will allocate this funding to tenants impacted by the pandemic. Recipients can use the money for previous and future rent and utility payments.
Child Care Assistance
Lawmakers provided $10 billion in funding for child care assistance, which states will distribute through programs for caregivers and families.
Although the stimulus package offers critical support for struggling Americans, some are critical of its scope. “I hope that this bill is not the end,” Blake stated. “We need business leaders and government officials to sit down and really think about what comes next.”
- LaPonsie, Maryalene. “Second Stimulus Package: What’s in It for You.” U.S. News & World Report, U.S. News & World Report, 21 Dec. 2020, money.usnews.com/money/personal-finance/family-finance/articles/second-stimulus-check-and-expanded-unemployment-benefits-who-qualifies-and-when-does-it-start.