After months of negotiations, congressional leaders finally announced on Sunday they reached an agreement on a $900 billion economic relief package, which includes $600 direct payments to Americans, aid for small businesses, and an extension of the moratorium on evictions that was set to expire at the end of the year.
The news comes as the country deals with a surge in coronavirus cases and overwhelmed hospitals, but also increased vaccine distribution to health care workers and nursing home residents.
According to summaries from Democratic and Republican congressional leaders, The Washington Post reports, the coronavirus relief bill includes $600 stimulus checks per person, including children, for people earning less than $75,000 in the 2019 tax year. The size of the check drops for those who earned between $75,000 and $99,000, and goes away completely for those who made more than $99,000.
The legislation extends supplemental unemployment benefits of up to $300 per week and a program for contract and gig workers. It also includes more than $284 billion to cover first and second forgivable Paycheck Protection Program loans and expands PPP eligibility to news organizations and nonprofits. Independent movie theaters and cultural institutions will also receive $15 billion, and a tax break for corporate meal expenses pushed by the White House was approved, despite objections from Democrats.
The package extends the moratorium on evictions until Jan. 31 and provides $25 billion in emergency assistance to renters, but the Post notes it's unclear at this time how the funding will be distributed. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said the bill sets aside billions of dollars "specifically for combating the disparities facing communities of color, and to support our heroic health-care workers and providers."
The agreement also includes $13 billion in increased food stamps and nutrition benefits, $16 billion for airline employee and contractor payroll support, $20 billion to purchase vaccines, and $82 billion for schools to replace and repair heating and air conditioning units in order to reduce the risk of spreading the coronavirus. It does not call for any new money for state and local governments or hazard pay for essential workers. Read more at The Washington Post.
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