As people line up for food this Christmas rather than the latest toy craze, Congress is expected to vote today on finalizing a new stimulus deal that could put at least $600 in direct payments into people’s pockets as soon as next week.
After months and months of political wrangling, a new deal will provide $900 billion in aid. Democrats and Republicans have announced that they finally agreed on another round of pandemic aid including direct payments to Americans, jobless benefits and funds for businesses and vaccine distribution, The New York Times reported.
The measure was approved by both chambers on Sunday night and President Donald Trump signed it just before midnight.
The plan is about half the size of the $2.2 trillion CARES Act stimulus law enacted in March, but it is one of the largest relief packages in modern history, The New York Times reported.
Here are six things Black America needs to know about the new stimulus package.
The agreement is expected to send out $600 stimulus direct payments to qualifying American adults earning up to $75,000. It’s also expected that families will receive an additional $600 for each child. Payment will be made by checks or direct deposit.
Also, the measure will revive lapsed supplemental federal unemployment benefits at $300 a week for 11 weeks. It will also continue and expand benefits for gig workers and freelancers, The New York Times reported.
Washington Post reporter Jeff Stein tweeted, “Treasury Secretary Mnuchin says he expects direct deposits of $2,400 for a family of four to begin arriving as soon as next week”
The package will restart a boost of $300 per week in federal unemployment insurance for up to 11 weeks through mid-March of 2021. That’s less than the $600 provided under the CARES Act — Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act. The plan will also extend the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation programs, which expanded jobless benefits eligibility and allowed people to continue receiving payments after their state assistance ran out, through mid-March, CNBC reported.
The package includes $82 billion for colleges and schools with a $1-billion forgiveness of federal loans for historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs), The New York Times reported. On top of this, the bill will also simplify the federal government’s financial aid form, called the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA. Democrats secured the sweeping college affordability provisions which include a major expansion of the federal Pell grant program for low-income students and the reversal of a longtime ban on extending the grants to prisoners studying for degrees behind bars.
According to progressive Democrats, the stimulus deal is not enough for individuals.
“Progressive Democrats have urged for a larger stimulus check for Americans to be included in the coronavirus relief package. Most recently 17 lawmakers wrote a letter urging Congress to include $2,000 stimulus checks in the package,” she said, according to Business Insider.
“At this point, these are not even stimulus checks. These are survival checks,” the Massachusetts congresswoman said. “My constituents need these moneys to remain safely housed … $600 does not even cover one month’s rent.”
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, another a member of The Squad of progressive lawmakers alongside Pressley, complained that Senate Republicans “just (don’t) care” and slammed the $600 checks as an “insultingly low amount,” Business Insider reported.
Business Insider used data from The Council for Community and Economic Research, Cost of Living Index to calculate how long a $600 check would last in 25 of the biggest U.S. cities. The analysis took into account typical monthly spending data for groceries, housing, utilities, transportation, healthcare, recreation and entertainment.
Because the expenditures are based on a 2.5-person household, under the stimulus deal there would be about two $600 checks per household. With this in mind, the $600 checks would last 6.72 days on average. But in expensive cities such as New York, $600 checks will last just 3.54 days.
The bill will also provide more than $284 billion for businesses and revive the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), a federal loan program for small businesses that lapsed over the summer. The stimulus deal will expand eligibility under the program for nonprofits, local newspapers and radio and TV broadcasters. It will allocate $15 billion for performance venues, independent movie theaters and other cultural institutions devastated by restrictions imposed to stop the spread of the coronavirus, The New York Times reported.
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Included in the package is funding for the distribution of covid-19 vaccines as well as for testing. There has been a major push to encourage Black Americans to get vaccinated despite a longtime distrust of the medical community that dates back for generations.