Here’s what’s in the second stimulus package


People walk past the US Capitol in Washington, DC on December 16, 2020. – Congressional leaders on December 16, 2020 said they were nearing a long-awaited agreement on a stimulus package for the US economy, while the Federal Reserve is set to provide updated forecasts on an uncertain outlook.

(CNN) — Leaders in the House and Senate reached an agreement late Sunday on a $900 billion pandemic relief bill that includes enhanced unemployment benefits and direct cash payments.

There were several changes made from a proposal put forward nearly two weeks ago by a bipartisan group of lawmakers. Direct stimulus checks were brought in at the last minute. Direct aid to states and liability protections for companies were left out.

If the new bill passes, it will be the second-largest federal stimulus package after the $2 trillion CARES Act that Congress approved in March.

Lawmakers in both chambers are expected to vote Monday and send the bill to President Donald Trump’s desk for his signature — just in time to get something done before the end of December, when several aid programs in the CARES Act are set to expire, including key pandemic jobless assistance measures and eviction protections.

The full bill text had not been released as of Sunday night. Here’s what we know so far from summaries released by Democratic and Republican leadership:

Stimulus checks

The package would send direct stimulus payments of $600 to individuals, half the amount provided in the first round of checks that went out in the spring. As with the first round, the payments will only be sent to people below a certain income level, though it wasn’t clear Sunday where that would be set.

Eligible families would receive an additional $600 per child — which is $100 more than Congress gave families in the first round of relief last spring.

Unemployment benefits

The jobless would receive a $300 weekly federal enhancement in benefits for 11 weeks, from the end of December through mid-March under the deal. The amount is half of the earlier federal boost, which ran out at the end of July.

Also, the agreement calls for extensions of two other pandemic unemployment programs that were created in the CARES Act in March. Both are currently set to expire at the end of this week, affecting an estimated 12 million people.

The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program expands jobless benefits to gig workers, freelancers, 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 close to new applicants in mid-March and then phase out in early April for existing claimants.

The final agreement is less generous than the original bipartisan deal that was released earlier this month. It would have provided 16 weeks of enhanced payments and pandemic benefits.

Small business loans

The bill would reopen the Paycheck Protection Program so that some of the hardest-hit small businesses can apply for a second loan. The program stopped taking applications for the first round of loans in August.

It specifically designates $12 billion for minority-owned and very small businesses.

Unlike in the CARES Act, this bill carves out $15 billion for live venues, independent movie theaters and cultural institutions. It also expands eligibility to more nonprofits as well as local newspapers, TV and radio broadcasters.

Funding for schools and child care

The bill would provide $82 billion in aid for K-12 schools and colleges. Earlier 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 that have struggled because of the pandemic.

Rental assistance

The bill would extend until January 31 the eviction protection set to expire at the end of the year. It also would provide $25 billion in rental assistance for individuals who lost their source of income during the pandemic.

Nutrition assistance

The deal would raise SNAP benefits by 15% for six months but would not expand eligibility. This is more generous that the original bipartisan agreement from earlier in December, which called for a four-month increase.

Democrats have advocated for augmenting the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, as food stamps are formally known, since the pandemic began, but the provision never made it into prior relief packages.

The bill would also expand the Pandemic-EBT program to families with children under age 6, deeming 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 in school.

The deal also would send $400 million to food banks and food pantries through The Emergency Food Assistance Program.

It would also provide $175 million for nutrition services for seniors, such as Meals on Wheels, and $13 million for the Commodity Supplemental Food Program, which serves more than 700,000 older Americans monthly.

Vaccine funding

The agreement would provide $20 billion for the purchase of vaccines so they can be available at no charge for those who need it, as well as another $8 billion for vaccine distribution.

It also would give states $20 billion to assist with testing.

What’s not in the bill — state and local government funding

The final deal does not contain any direct aid to state and local governments — dropping an initial call for $160 billion in assistance as the basis for good faith negotiations.

The provision has been among the most contentious of the negotiations. House Democrats had provided $875 billion in the relief bill that passed the chamber in May to help states and local governments struggling with lower tax revenues due to the pandemic.

But Republicans have resisted allocating additional aid beyond the $150 billion provided in Congress’ $2 trillion relief bill in March, which could only be used for coronavirus-related expenses. GOP lawmakers have said they don’t want to bail out states that have mismanaged their finances.

State and local officials blasted 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 pointed out that the final agreement would provide emergency resources for schools, $27 billion for state highways, struggling transit agencies, Amtrak and airports, and $22 billion for health-related expenses of state, local, tribal and territorial government.

In addition, the agreement calls for providing $2 billion to support intercity buses.

The deal would also extend the deadline for spending down the $150 billion in coronavirus relief funds by a year. State and local governments have been racing to use all the money by the current deadline of December 30, with many providing assistance to residents.

State and local officials had also asked to be able to use some of the funding to plug budget shortfalls.

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