On Monday 12/21/2020, Congress passed a new COVID-19 relief bill. The latest in various rounds of stimulus packages is aimed at providing financial help for those most impacted by the spread of the Coronavirus here in the U.S.
In a late Monday evening effort to both pass an annual budget to financially-power the federal government for the next 12 months, and to provide some sort of relief to everyday Americans and small business owners, Congress passed a new COVID-19 relief bill/ budget to avoid a shutdown.
The bill, worth over $1.4 trillion makes various provisions to help small businesses and average households stay afloat in the midst of what most describe as one of the toughest economic times since The Great Depression.
In the last four months, both Republicans and Democrats have had a difficult time agreeing to various major aspects of the deal. But with the Unemployment rate creeping up again and a demonstrable resurgence of the Coronavirus ( increase in new cases across most of the world), both parties have felt the pressure to get some kind of deal passed.
The bill, for the most part provides over $350 billion to restart the popular Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which provides forgivable loans to help small businesses cover the cost of operations and to pay wages in these unprecedented times. Congress also approved direct payments of $600 to most Americans.
Here are some of the other provisions in the latest COVID-19 relief bill:
The package would send direct stimulus payments of $600 to individuals, half the amount provided in the first round of checks, which went out in the spring.
The payments start phasing out for individuals with adjusted gross incomes of more than $75,000, and those making more than $99,000 would not receive anything. The income thresholds would be doubled for couples.
The jobless would receive a $300 weekly federal enhancement in benefits for 11 weeks, from the end of December through March 14 under the deal. The amount is half of the earlier federal boost, which ran out at the end of July.
Small business loans
The bill reopens the Paycheck Protection Program which stopped taken applications in August of 2020.
The second loans would be limited to those with fewer than 300 employees that have seen drops of at least 25% of their revenue during the first, second or third quarter of 2020.
It would also reduce the amount a borrower can receive from $10 million to $2 million, give businesses more flexibility on how they spend the money and simplify the forgiveness process for loans under $150,000.
Grants for theaters and other live venues
The bill would create a $15 billion grant program for live venues, theaters and museum operators that have lost at least 25% of their revenues.
The initial grant can total up to $10 million per eligible business. A second grant, worth half the amount of the first, may also be available.
The money will be for specified expenses such as payroll costs, rent, utilities and personal protective equipment.
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.
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 sources of income during the pandemic.