Washington D.C. – Congressional leaders reached an agreement Sunday night on the new COVID-19 stimulus bill that would send most Americans a $600 direct stimulus payment.
The bill to be voted on Monday would also allow reviving the $300 weekly supplemental jobless benefit. According to the language agreed, a couple with two children and $150,000 annual income will receive a $2,400 payment.
Like in the CARES Act, the federal check would be reduced to zero for individuals who earned more than $99,000 the previous year and $198,000 for couples. The checks would also be sent to couples with an undocumented individual.
“We have now reached agreement on a bill that will crush the virus and put money in the pockets of working families who are struggling,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi (California) and Senate Democratic Minority Leader Charles Schumer (New York) said in a joint statement confirming the agreement, which includes the White House. Schumer had previously indicated that it was an emergency relief bill but that they should do “more” under the Biden administration.
When he announced the agreement, Senate Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Kentucky) said that “more help is on the way.
Congress approved Sunday night a resolution extending until Monday the current spending seeking to prevent a partial government shutdown.
This stimulus bill, which combines with an omnibus bus spending bill for fiscal year 2021, would cost $900 billion. The budget bill totals another $1.4 trillion.
The measure revives the Small Business Paycheck Protection (PPP) program, which would allow loans of up to $150,000 to be forgiven under certain conditions.
PPP loans would be available to businesses with 300 employees or less, depending on preliminary agreements.
The Small Business assistance package totals nearly $300 billion and includes $15 billion for venues that offer live events, independent movie theaters, and cultural organizations. There are also loans to very small businesses and financial institutions representing minority communities.
Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin indicated that the business’ operating costs that are deducted to forgive a PPP loan will not be allowed to be deducted from tax returns.
Although the precise language of each section of the agreement was not detailed, the bill would extend the federal moratorium against housing evictions, assistance for housing, nutrition funds, and education systems.
According to Pelosi and Schumer, housing rental assistance funds total $25 billion. Meanwhile, nutrition assistance funds are near $13 billion.
The original bipartisan plan included an allocation of $300 million in nutrition assistance for Puerto Rico, American Samoa, and the Northern Mariana Islands. The overwhelming majority of those funds would be for Puerto Rico.
For education systems, the package totals $82 billion. Another $10 billion will go to fund child care programs. The bill will also allow to include 500,000 new recipients in the Pell grants and ensure that more than 1.5 million students receive the maximum benefit.
The other key part of the bill is aimed at allocating funds to boost vaccine distribution and provide diagnostic testing for the coronavirus, which has killed more than 317,000 people in the United States.
The agreement moved forward after Republican Senator Pat Toomey (Pa.) amended the language that Democrats felt would have tied the Biden administration’s hands when it came to the Treasury and the Federal Reserve offering loans for an emergency like COVID-19.
As anticipated, direct assistance to state and local governments that Democrats asked for and the Republican amendment seeking to grant some federal immunity to companies operating under the coronavirus emergency have been left out of the agreement.
Biden - who will take office on January 20 - promised to propose another bill to boost the economy early in 2021.
The federal government has been fully operational since October 1, when fiscal year 2021 began, thanks to four temporary budget resolutions.