Washington (CNN) — Leaders of the US House and Senate reached an agreement Sunday night on a US $ 900 billion stimulus bill for the pandemic that includes improved unemployment benefits and direct payments. cash.
Several changes were made from a proposal submitted nearly two weeks ago by a bipartisan group of lawmakers. Direct stimulus checks were included at the last minute. Direct aid to states and corporate liability protections were omitted.
If the new bill passes, it will be the second-largest federal stimulus package after the $ 2 trillion CARES Act that Congress passed in March.
Lawmakers in both houses are expected to vote on Monday and send the bill to President Donald Trump’s desk for signature, just in time to get something done before the end of December, when several relief programs in the CARES Act will expire, including key measures of assistance for the unemployed by the pandemic and eviction protections.
The full text of the bill had not been published until Sunday night. Here’s what we know so far from the summaries posted by Democratic and Republican leaders:
The package would send direct stimulus payments of $ 600 to individuals, half the amount provided in the first round of checks that was issued in the spring. As with the first round, payments will only be sent to people below a certain income level, although it was unclear on Sunday what that level would be.
Eligible families would receive an additional $ 600 per child, which is $ 100 more than what Congress gave families in the first round of aid last spring.
The unemployed would receive a weekly federal improvement of $ 300 in benefits for 11 weeks, from late December to mid-March, according to the agreement. The amount is half of the previous federal boost, which ran out in late July.
In addition, the agreement calls for extensions to two other pandemic unemployment programs that were created in the CARES Act in March. Both are scheduled to expire at the end of this week, affecting approximately 12 million people.
The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program extends unemployment benefits to the self-employed, independent contractors, the self-employed and certain people affected by the coronavirus. The Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program provides an additional 13 weeks of payments to those who exhaust their regular state benefits.
Both programs would be closed for new applicants in mid-March and then phased out in early April for existing applicants.
The final agreement is less generous than the original bipartisan agreement that was published earlier this month. That would have provided 16 weeks of improved pay and benefits for the pandemic.
Small Business Stimulus Loans
The bill would reopen the Paycheck Protection Program so some of the worst-hit small businesses can apply for a second loan. The program stopped accepting applications for the first round of loans in August.
It specifically designates $ 12 billion for very small and minority businesses.
Unlike the CARES Act, this bill allocates $ 15 billion for live venues, independent cinemas, and cultural institutions. It also expands eligibility to more nonprofits, as well as local newspapers, radio and television stations.
Financing for schools and child care
The bill would provide $ 82 billion in aid for primary and secondary schools and universities. Previous proposals from Republicans and Democrats called for at least $ 100 billion in aid for schools.
An additional $ 10 billion is included to support child care providers in trouble due to the pandemic.
The bill would extend until January 31 the protection against eviction that expires at the end of the year. It would also provide $ 25 billion in rental assistance for people who lost their source of income during the pandemic.
The stimulus agreement would increase Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits by 15% for six months, but would not extend your eligibility. This is more generous than the original bipartisan agreement from early December, which called for a four-month raise.
Democrats have advocated increasing SNAP, as the food stamp program is formally known, since the pandemic began, but the provision was never included in previous aid packages.
The bill would also expand the Pandemic-EBT program to families with children under the age of 6, making them “enrolled” in child care and eligible for benefits. It now provides money to low-income families with school-age children in lieu of the free and reduced-price meals they would have received at school.
The deal would also send $ 400 million to food banks and food pantries through the Emergency Food Assistance Program.
It would also provide $ 175 million for senior nutrition services, such as Meals on Wheels, and $ 13 million for the Commodity Supplemental Food Program, which serves more than 700,000 older Americans monthly.
Financing for vaccines
The deal would provide $ 20 billion for the purchase of vaccines so that they can be made available free of charge to those who need them, as well as another $ 8 billion for vaccine distribution.
It would also give states $ 20 billion to help with testing.
What’s Not in the Stimulus Bill: State and Local Government Funding
The final agreement does not contain any direct assistance to state and local governments, eliminating an initial request for $ 160 billion in assistance as the basis for good faith negotiations.
The provision has been one of the most controversial of the negotiations. House Democrats had allocated $ 875 billion in the aid bill that passed the House in May to help state and local governments struggling with lower tax revenues due to the pandemic.
But Republicans have been reluctant to allocate additional aid beyond the $ 150 billion provided in Congress’ $ 2 trillion aid bill in March, which could only be used for coronavirus-related spending. Republican lawmakers have said they don’t want to bail out states that have mismanaged their finances.
State and local officials criticized lawmakers in recent days when it became clear that direct aid was falling by the wayside.
In a joint statement Sunday night, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer noted that the final agreement would provide emergency resources for schools, $ 27 billion for state highways, distressed transit agencies, Amtrak and airports, and $ 22 billion for health-related spending by state, local, tribal and territorial governments.
In addition, the agreement calls for providing US $ 2 billion to support intercity buses.
The stimulus agreement would also extend the timeframe for spending the $ 150 billion in coronavirus relief funds by one year. State and local governments have rushed to use up all the money before the current December 30 deadline, with many providing assistance to residents.
State and local officials had also requested to be able to use part of the funds to cover budget deficits.
CNN’s Manu Raju and Clare Foran contributed to this report.
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