$600 in direct stimulus payments for Americans in new $900 billion relief package

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 20 December 2020 at 8:54 pm

Congressional leaders announced they have reached a $900 billion relief package that calls for $600 in direct payments to most Americans.

The rescue package would also bring financial aid to small businesses, unemployed Americans and health care workers.

Charles Schumer, the Senate minority leader, said the funding doesn’t address all of the needs, including money for local and state governments.

“But anyone who thinks this is enough does not know what’s going on in America and has not looked into the eyes of a small business owner, a restaurant owner losing their business,” Schumer said. “We must do more under President Biden.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the agreement will provide needed resources to Americans who have suffered much of 2020 from the Covid-19 pandemic.

“As the American people continue battling the coronavirus this holiday season, they will not be on their own,” McConnell posted on Twitter. “Congress has just reached an agreement. We will pass another rescue package ASAP. More help is on the way.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) issued a joint statement and outlined highlights of the $900 billion agreement:

  • Direct payment checks: A new round of direct payments worth up to $600 per adult and child, and also ensuring that mixed-status families receive payments.
  • Strong support for small business: The agreement includes over $284 billion for first and second forgivable PPP loans, expanded PPP eligibility for nonprofits and local newspapers, TV and radio broadcasters, key modifications to PPP to serve the smallest businesses and struggling non-profits and better assist independent restaurants, and includes $15 billion in dedicated funding for live venues, independent movie theaters, and cultural institutions. The agreement also includes $20 billion for targeted EIDL Grants which are critical to many smaller businesses on Main Street.
  • Community Development Financial Institutions and Minority Depository Institutions: The agreement includes dedicated PPP set-asides for very small businesses and lending through community-based lenders like Community Development Financial Institutions and Minority Depository Institutions.
  • Rental assistance: $25 billion in critically needed rental assistance for families struggling to stay in their homes and an extension of the eviction moratorium.
  • Enhanced Unemployment Insurance benefits: There won’t be a sudden expiration of Unemployment Insurance benefits for millions and Schumer and Pelosi said they secured an added a $300 per week UI enhancement for Americans out of work.
  • Nutrition assistance for hungry families: Democrats secured $13 billion in increased SNAP and child nutrition benefits to help relieve the historic hunger crisis that has left up to 17 million children food insecure.
  • Education and child care: The agreement provides $82 billion in funding for colleges and schools, including support for HVAC repair and replacement to mitigate virus transmission and reopen classrooms, and $10 billion for child care assistance to help get parents back to work and keep child care providers open.
  • Broadband access: The agreement invests $7 billion to increase access to broadband, including a new Emergency Broadband Benefit to help millions of students, families and unemployed workers afford the broadband they need during the pandemic.

“State and local governments will certainly need additional funding to prevent the senseless layoffs of heroic essential workers and critical service cuts,” Schumer and Pelosi said in a joint statement. “The agreement provides some important new targeted funds for state and local government functions that will help alleviate their overall budget burdens.”