A long time ago, April 2020 to be exact, Congress managed to pass a bill, which included a $1,200 stimulus check to most Americans. The check came as relief for people had lost their jobs, income, home, or were on the verge of losing them. Although not everyone got one, the check seemed to really help people out and bring some hope for the future. However since then, Congress has put a new piece of legislation together involving stimulus checks. So, how much can we expect this time around if the bill passes.
Why Only $600?
After months and months of negotiations and breaks, Congress has put forth a 900 billion dollar deal that includes $600 checks for qualifying adults. At the earliest, Congress could get these checks out by next week. This check is exactly half the amount of the last check, which sparked frustration from elected officials who called for more. In fact, some politicians have called it “a slap in the face” and refer to it as a “survival check”.
As you may recall, the first round of stimulus checks were $1200. Congress came up with this number by multiplying a 40 hour work week by $7.75, the federal minimum wage. If you take that number and multiply it again by four, the number of weeks in a month, you get a little over $1200. So it is not entirely clear why the second round check is half of this, but as some have put it, it’s better than nothing.
Just as the first round had kept individuals making a certain amount of money from receiving a check, the second round is expected to be the same. This also means that adults with children will receive extra money as well. Instead of the $500 per child policy, this new deal would increase it to $600.
What Else Is In The Package?
In addition to the $600 stimulus check, Congress also included an extension on a few key benefits and additional funding.
Extended Unemployment Benefits
The new unemployment benefit extensions passed by Congress enhanced weekly checks of $300, half the amount before. The program is set to run for 11 more weeks, but will not retroactively pay back to July, when original benefits ended. As reported throughout the pandemic, unemployment went up, and people were in deep need of relief.
Well, just as things seemed to be at a standstill, Congress extended unemployment benefits. Unfortunately, Congress cut that relief in half, as they did with stimulus checks. Perhaps members of congress believe that those in the most desperate situations will fall under multiple categories.
Even if a person collects a stimulus check, ($600) and an unemployment check of ($300) they are only at $900. If they are on unemployment benefits, they will see $300 extra in their weekly check, but that still doesn’t come close to previous benefits.
Another key benefit extension that Congress included in their bill was an eviction protections extension. At the end of 2020, the federal government was set to end eviction protections, which could potentially leave millions homeless around America.
However, Congress plans to extend it until January 21st, 2020. Additionally, Congress threw in $25 billion for assisting those whose income was lost or disrupted. Hopefully this will help avoid an eviction crisis, as I wrote about earlier this year.
For those who use SNAP, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, benefits, you can breathe a sigh of relief. Congress has agreed to increase SNAP benefits by 15%, however they will not be expanding them.
This means that the parameters for which people may qualify for SNAP benefits will not be altered to include more beneficiaries. Yet, those who already benefit from them will see their benefits increase.
Small Business Relief
Returning for a second round, Congress has authorized the Paycheck Protection Program, which will target hard hit small businesses. The bill will reportedly include 12 billion specifically for minority owned businesses, and $15 billion for venues and theatres.
The intention of these loans is to keep them healthy enough to endure closures that have plagued so many businesses. COVID-19 closures have affected several industries such as movie theatres and live music venues. The new relief should help those industries stay afloat until business as usual resumes.