Congress approves a stimulus package

  • Congress approves a stimulus package
    Congress approves a stimulus package

For nearly two weeks, legislation has been in a gridlock trying to pass another stimulus package to ease the blows of the pandemic shutdown. At the beginning of the talks, the idea of direct stimulus checks was left off the table. However, in a last-minute change, the checks were included.

The bill’s fate was left up to a vote in the House and Senate on Monday, and President Donald Trump’s signature. As of December 21, the bill passed. The $900 billion pandemic relief bill will cover a few items.

Stimulus checks

This package will be similar to the original stimulus package, just a lower amount. This round will give individuals $600 each, half of the amount of the original package in the spring. Eligible families will also receive $600 per child, $100 more than the first round.

As per the original package, the checks will only go out to families under a certain adjusted gross income. An individual needs to be under $75,000, and couple’s thresholds for eligibility will be double that amount.

Individuals and families who filed their 2019 income taxes do not have to do anything except wait for the funds to be available in their accounts. Like the first round, undocumented immigrants without Social Security numbers till do not qualify. How ever, the change is that their spouses or children who have Social Security numbers are eligible.

Unemployment benefits

Many Americans are still jobless since the pandemic began in March. The first stimulus package gave each individual on unemployment an extra $600 per week, and their regular benefits end on December 31, 2020. The new package extends unemployment benefits till March 14 and adds and extra $300 per week to each benefit receiver.

Small business loans

This bill aims to reopen the Paycheck Protection Plan to possibly give aid to the hardest-hit small businesses. This allows the small businesses to apply for a second loan. The first-round deadline was in August.

The second round of loans will be limited to the businesses with fewer then 300 employees and have seen drops of at least 25% of their revenue during the first, second or third quarter of 2020. It also reduced the amount a borrower could receive from $10 million down to $2 million, simplified the forgiveness process for loans that come under $150,000 and gives the businesses more flexibility on how the funds are spent. One more change to the bill is $12 allocated for minority-owned businesses and expanded eligibility for more nonprofits and local newspapers, TV and radio broadcasters.

Grants for theaters and other live venues

The bill also aims to help theaters, live venues and museum operators that have lost at least 25% of their revenues, which is most likely all of them. The initial amount allowed for the for grant is $10 million per eligible business. A second grant may also be available that is worth half of the original amount.

The award process will go to most affected down to the least. The first grants will go to businesses that have faced 90% revenue loss. Then, the ones that faced 70% revenue losses will be eligible two weeks later.

Funding for schools and childcare

The bill aims to provide $82 billion in aid for K-12 schools and even colleges. The original proposals requested $100 billion, but $82 billion was the amount that was approved. There is also an additional $10 billion to include day cares and other support childcare provid ers that have been affected by the pandemic.

Payroll tax repayment Employers who were using the tax bill to defer their employee’s payroll taxes have until the end of 2021 to increase the worker’s withholding to pay back the taxes that are owed.

The other three items included were rental assistance – it extended the eviction protection to January 31, 2021 and provides $25 billion for in rental assistance to people affected by the pandemic. SNAP benefits will be raised 15% for six months and the eligibility requirements will expand.