House passes COVID-19 relief package
The second round of stimulus checks are finally on their way to millions of Americans as part of Congress’s coronavirus aid deal.
Late Sunday afternoon, Senate leadership announced a bipartisan deal on a $900 billion economic relief package, including individual benefits, small business help, Broadband access and more.
The House of Representatives passed the relief measure on Monday by a vote of 359 to 53 and the Senate is expected to approve it quickly and send it to the president, with a seven-day stop-gap spending bill to allow time to process the combined relief and annual funding bills, and prevent a government shutdown.
Direct payment checks in the amount of $600 will be available for every adult and child earning up to $75,000, according to national media reports. Individuals who earn between $75,000 and $99,000 will receive smaller checks, and those who earn over $99,000 won’t receive any benefits.
Dependent children under the age of 17 will also receive the same $600 checks as adults as well, but adults who are nevertheless claimed as dependents, such as college students, may not.
Jobless workers will receive up to $300 per week as soon as Dec. 27 through mid-March, and extended assistance will be provided for self-employed people and gig workers as a part of enhanced unemployment benefits. The income criteria for these checks reflects that of the first round earlier this year.
The package also includes rental assistance in the amount of $25 billion and extended the eviction moratorium until Jan. 31, 2021, along with strengthening the Low Income Housing Tax Credit. There will be $13 billion for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program as well.
For small businesses, $284 billion will be provided for Paycheck Protection Program loans, including expanded eligibility for nonprofits, local newspapers and TV and radio stations. There will also be $15 billion reserved for live venues, independent movie theaters and cultural institutions. Ten billion dollars will go to child care centers to help providers safely reopen.
The package will put $68 billion toward purchasing and distributing COVID-19 vaccines and conducting testing, with $20 billion making the vaccine available at no cost for anyone who needs it by providing it to the states to assist with testing and contact tracing programs.
A new Emergency Broadband Benefit contains $7 billion to increase access to broadband Internet for families and unemployed workers to afford the broadband they need during the pandemic.
Transportation-related assistance made the package in the amount of $45 billion, including: $16 billion for airlines to pay salaries of workers and contractors; $14 billion for mass transit agencies; $10 billion for highways; and $1 billion for Amtrak.
Funding for schools and universities to assist with reopening includes $82 billion, with more than $54 billion for K-12 education and $22.7 billion for colleges. The bill repeals a ban preventing incarcerated students from qualifying for Pell grants.
The bill provides $13 billion for farmers and agriculture.
Rep. Salud Carbajal voted to pass the relief package, and worked together to craft the framework the package was built on as a member of the Problem Solvers Caucus.
“Each day, more businesses on the Central Coast and across the country are forced to close and lay off their workers. Families are facing eviction and food insecurity, kids are falling behind in school, and hospitals are swelling with patients. Today, I’m pleased to say that more help is on the way,” said Rep. Carbajal. “I’m glad we were able to rise above the gridlock that so often plagues Congress and finally deliver the relief Central Coast residents needed months ago.
“This package is far from perfect, but it is a crucial down payment to meet our nation’s immediate needs. I will keep fighting for more support as needed so we can get through this pandemic and back on our feet.”