On Dec. 27, President Donald Trump signed a 900 billion dollar stimulus package. The bill arrived after months of debates and negotiations between congressional leaders. The package is the first large infusion of federal funds into the economy since April. While it is around only half the first stimulus bill’s size, the plan is still the second most prodigious relief package in federal history.
With negotiations stretching on, members of Congress passed three temporary extensions to prevent a government shutdown before the bill passed. Both chambers of Congress finally approved the measure on the night of Dec. 27, with Trump signing the bill before midnight.
While Trump signed the bill, President-elect Joseph Biden will have to deal with the bill’s effects. In response to the bill, Biden stated, “I am heartened to see members of Congress heed this request, reach across the aisle, and work together. But this action in the lame-duck session is just the beginning. Our work is far from over.”
The plan provides direct stimulus payments of 600 dollars to any American earning less than 75,000 dollars. Eligible families will receive an additional 600 dollars per child. As long as a person has a Social Security number, they are eligible for a stimulus payment.
The package extends pandemic unemployment programs created in the CARES Act, the first pandemic relief bill, for another 11 weeks. Due to Trump’s hesitancy to sign the bill, many Americans may only get 10 weeks of payment. Those who have at least 5,000 dollars in self-employment income but cannot receive pandemic unemployment will receive 100 dollars a week. According to a state’s unemployment rate, the federal government will finance extended benefits through mid-March, handing over 20 additional weeks.
This measure included 284 billion dollars for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). The PPP is a federal loan program intended for small businesses that lapsed over the summer. The program’s eligibility will also grow under this bill. Fifteen billion dollars are allocated for performance venues, cultural institutions, and movie theatres heavily impacted by coronavirus restrictions.
The measure delegates 82 billion dollars to K-12 schools and colleges. This money comes in addition to 10 billion dollars specifically put aside for childcare providers who have struggled due to the pandemic.
Lawmakers further allocated 20 billion for vaccine purchasing, 8 billion for vaccine distribution and hospital funding, and another 20 billion dollars for testing. One hundred and seventy-five billion dollars make up a fund for hospitals and health care providers who have suffered under the burden of the pandemic. The bill also protects against eviction, extending the eviction protections until Jan. 31. The measure provides 25 billion dollars in rental assistance for those who became unemployed during the pandemic.
Congress is more generous with nutrition assistance than in the last package, raising food stamp benefits by 15 percent. It also expands the Pandemic-EBT program for families with under six children that receive food stamps, child care, and benefits. The program gives families with school-age children money to make up for the meals their children would receive in school. The bill gives 400 million dollars to food banks and Antares across America, as well as providing 175 million for nutrition services for seniors. Republican lawmakers resisted parts of the measure that complied with state and local aid as they felt that it would force them to bail out states that mismanage their funds.
Overall, the bill will significantly help the American people combat the economic effects of the pandemic.
(Sources: CNN, NY Times, CBS News)