Congress Reaches Agreement on $900 Billion Stimulus Deal With Direct Payments, Unemployment

Congressional leaders struck a $900 billion coronavirus relief deal on Sunday that would provide direct payments to most Americans and boost unemployment benefits to millions, The Washington Post reports.

The text of the bill has not been released but lawmakers agreed on a $900 billion framework that will repurpose $429 billion in unused funds that the Cares Act gave the Federal Reserve for emergency lending facilities. The bill is far lower than the $2.2 trillion to $3.4 trillion proposals urged by Democrats, though lawmakers acknowledged they will have to work out another deal after President-elect Joe Biden takes over.

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer and Biden have described the deal as a “down payment” on a larger package next year.

The bill will provide $600 direct payments to Americans earning up to $75,000 or $150,000 per couple with the same amount for each child. The payments are lower to those earning between $75K and $99K and are eliminated for higher earners.

Lawmakers reduced the $300 per week federal unemployment boost extension from 16 weeks to 11 weeks to pay for the payments.

The deal will also provide about $325 billion in small business aid, including nearly $300 billion in additional funding for the Paycheck Protection Program’s forgivable loans.

Here’s what else is in the bill:

PPP changes:

The new deal will ensure expand PPP loans for nonprofits, news outlets, and churches.

The bill will also allow businesses that received PPP loans to deduct them from their federal taxes.

The deal also provides $15 billion for independent movie theaters and cultural institutions and $20 billion for targeted grants under the Economic Injury Disaster Loans program.

Contentious tax break and wall funding:

The deal also includes an expansion of a tax cut for business meals that was pushed by President Donald Trump.

It also includes $1.4 billion in funding for his border wall.

The bill does not include any state or local aid nor any liability protections for corporations.

Relief measures:

The bill extends the federal eviction moratorium through January 31, meaning Biden will have to extend it after taking office.

The bill will provide $25 billion in emergency assistance for renters, though it is unclear how they will get the money.

The package includes $20 billion to buy vaccines, $8 billion to distribute vaccines, and $20 billion to help states with testing.

It also includes $82 billion to improve HVAC systems in schools and colleges and $10 billion for child care assistance.

The bill would also provide $13 billion in expanded food stamps, $7 billion in funding to expand broadband access, $45 million for transportation including $16 billion to airlines, and legislation to end surprise medical billing and provide tax credits to employers that offer paid sick leave.


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