Key Highlights

  • Nearly $900B bipartisan breakthrough after months of bickering
  • “…far from perfect, but it will deliver emergency relief to a nation in the throes of a genuine emergency”
  • Summary of what known so far

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It’s taken months and months, along with much suffering, to come to some sort of bipartisan agreement on a second COVID relief package but it’s here.  This package totals nearly $900B to include $600 direct payments to qualifying Americans, a $300 boost in unemployment benefits and funding for small business aid and vaccine distribution.

This relief package is only the second major legislation in response to the COVID pandemic since March when the $2T CARES Act was passed.  There are some glaring omissions within this package that lawmakers had to remove in order to achieve this compromise measure…sizable aid to cash-strapped state and local governments and a sweeping liability shield to protect businesses from COVID-related lawsuits.  Additionally, Republicans had to vastly scale back demands that would have prevented the chair of the Federal Reserve from establishing similar CARES Act-like facilities to appropriate aid.

Here’s what we know about this legislation at this point in time:

  • Direct stimulus payments of $600 to adults earning up to $75,000
  • Revived lapsed supplemental federal unemployment benefits at $300/week for 11 weeks
  • Continue and expand federal payments (unspecified) for gig workers and freelancers and extend payments to workers whose benefits have expired
  • More than $284B for businesses
  • Revival of Paycheck Protection Program and expand its eligibility to include nonprofits, local newspapers/radio/TV broadcasters (unspecified)
  • Allocation of $15B for performance venues, independent theaters and other cultural institutions
  • Billions (unspecified) for testing, tracing and vaccine distribution
  • $82B for colleges and schools
  • $7B for broadband access
  • $13B for nutritional assistance
  • $25B in rental assistance (unspecified @ owner assistance)
  • Unspecified agreement to extend eviction moratorium set to expire at end of December
  • Ban on “surprise” medical bills from out-of-network health providers – hospitals and doctors now need to settle up with health insurers
  • Simplification of federal government’s student financial aid form (Free Application for Federal Student Aid – FASA) and expansion of federal Pell grant program to low-income students and reversing ban on extending such grants to prisoners pursuing degrees while imprisoned
  • Forgiveness of +$1B in federal loans to historically Black colleges and universities
  • Deals (unspecified) to counter climate change and promote clean energy, the first such legislation in over a decade.

More when we know it.

Thanks to The New York Times and National Public Radio.

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