Legislators in Congress passed a $900 billion stimulus package on Monday, taking Americans affected by the COVID-19 pandemic one step closer to another round of relief. The White House has indicated that the pandemic relief legislation will be signed by President Donald Trump once it reaches his desk.
After months of stalled negotiations amid rising coronavirus cases in the country, Americans have been anxiously awaiting the possibility of additional aid. Here’s what the newly passed stimulus bill includes.
Another round of stimulus checks
Much like the $1,200 checks that were distributed to many Americans through the CARES Act earlier this year, this new stimulus bill will also provide checks, albeit smaller ones. Checks for $600 will be distributed to eligible Americans who earned less than $75,000 in 2019. Eligible couples who made up to $150,000 in 2019 will receive $1,200 checks. The Washington Post reports that the bill also includes $600 checks for eligible dependent children.
Though there was a push from Democrats to include adult dependents in the next round of stimulus checks, people familiar with the negotiations indicated that they are not expected to qualify. However, mixed-status families, or families in which one adult is not a U.S. citizen, are expected to be eligible, reports The Washington Post. Undocumented immigrants will not be eligible to receive financial assistance through the bill.
Extension of unemployment benefits
The stimulus bill includes an extension of federal unemployment benefits. The benefits, which could start as early as next week, will give up to $300 weekly to eligible unemployed Americans. The bill includes coverage for up to 11 weeks through mid-March. Contract and gig workers will also see an extension of their unemployment benefits program through March 14.
A moratorium on evictions, which was set to expire at the end of 2020, will be extended through January under this new bill. Additionally, the bill includes around $25 billion in emergency assistance to renters.
The Paycheck Protection Program will receive an allotment of $284 billion, reports CNN. The bill also includes a tax credit "to support employers offering paid sick leave," according to the outlet. In all, $325 billion have been allotted for business relief, reports The Washington Post.
Protection from surprise medical bills
One of the consumer protections built into the bill is a measure that shields people from “surprise” medical bills. Instead of medical providers charging patients directly for any additional out-of-network costs that are not covered by their insurance provider, the bill stipulates that a third-party arbiter will now decide the payment for that portion of their medical bills.
Money for transportation, education, and healthcare
Additional funding has been allocated for schools ($82 billion), state transportation departments, airline payroll support, and Amtrak ($45 billion), and food stamps ($13 billion). CNBC reports that over $8 billion will be allocated for the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine, with around $22 billion set aside for COVID-19 testing, tracing, and mitigation programs at the state level.
Extension of CARES Act spending
Initially, cities and states had until the end of 2020 to spend any funding that they received under the CARES Act. However, under the new stimulus bill, that expiration date will be extended for a full year.
Save Our Stages
The Save our Stages Act, which has becoming a rallying cry among musicians and music lovers, has been incorporated into the latest stimulus bill. Independent music venues and theaters will receive an allotment of $15 billion. Without federal funding, a survey of National Independent Venue Association found that 90% of independent venues would be forced to shutter their doors in the coming months.