Democrats And Republicans Have Discussed Setting Aside Billions To Help Restaurants Gyms And Performance Venues Though Gop Concerns About Spending Could Scuttle The Effort
Democratic and Republican lawmakers have held early discussions about another round of coronavirus stimulus spending as they seek to blunt the fast-spreading omicron variant and its threats to public health and economic recovery.
The efforts have focused primarily on authorizing billions of dollars to help an array of businesses including restaurants, performance venues, gyms and even minor league sports teams that face another potential blow to their already-battered balance sheets as a result of the evolving pandemic.
In recent weeks, the talks have been led by Sens. Ben Cardin and Roger Wicker , according to four people familiar with the matter, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe their work, which is ongoing. The duo in mid-December cobbled together the outlines of a roughly $68 billion proposal, two of the people said, which could include a mix of new spending and a repurposing of some unused cash authorized under previous packages.
Cardin and Wicker have not yet finalized the business-focused measure, according to those familiar with their work, adding that the two lawmakers have huddled with members from both parties, including Sens. Maria Cantwell , Mark R. Warner and Susan Collins , in an attempt to build support. They may face an uphill battle in the narrowly divided chamber, where past attempts to provide aid for restaurants and other industries have faltered amid GOP concerns about adding to the federal deficit.
Strengthening State Snap Administration And Food Assistance In Territories
The bill also includes other food assistance proposals to strengthen the nations response to COVID.
Added resources for state SNAP administration. The bill would provide $1.135 billion over a three-year period for state administrative costs to help states accommodate the increased demand for SNAP. Though SNAPs benefits are federally funded, states administer the application and benefit issuance processes, among other activities, and pay 50 percent of administrative costs. Over the past year, states have had to manage increased SNAP caseloads with their systems stretched due to office closures and staff reductions. Many states needed to quickly launch telework capacity and systems modifications to adapt to the need for physical distancing during the pandemic. The additional federal funding would not require a state match, giving states additional resources to navigate these challenges. Table 2 includes state-by-state estimates of each states share of the increase in federal administrative funding.
SNAP online purchasing and other technology improvements. The bill would provide $25 million for USDA to make improvements to online purchasing in SNAP, electronic benefit transfer technology, the use of mobile technologies for SNAP purchases, and technical assistance to retailers on these aspects of SNAP payments. These are important investments that will strengthen and modernize the program.
Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation
The CARES Act also established the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program, which allowed workers who had exhausted their unemployment compensation benefits to receive 13 more weeks of benefits, if they were able to work. Also, the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance extended benefits to self-employed individuals, freelancers, and independent contractors.
For workers who remained employed but with reduced hours, the stimulus plan funded 100% of state short-term compensation benefits, and provided incentives for states that did not have such benefits to implement them.
The benefits under the PEUC program that expired on Dec. 31, 2020, were extended to March 14, 2021, as a result of the Continued Assistance for Unemployed Workers Act of 2020 . The act was passed by the U.S. Congress and signed into law by President Trump on Dec. 27, 2020, as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act , 2021. Also, individuals were able to collect unemployment benefits for an additional 24 weeks .
Again, as of Sept. 5, 2021, all pandemic-related unemployment benefits have ended, although some states stopped them even earlier.
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Elderly And Disabled People
Most senior citizens will qualify for a check, just as they did during the first two rounds. One change will mean that some seniors who were excluded last year will be eligible this time.
Under the first two rounds of payments, seniors and disabled adults were eligible for a check as long as no one else claimed them as a dependent. If so, they didnt qualify. For example, if a disabled adult lived at home with his or her parents and the parents claimed him or her as a dependent on their income taxes, the disabled adult didnt get a check.
This time, seniors and disabled adults who are claimed as dependents by someone else will be eligible for a check.
Advocacy groups for the elderly pushed for Congress to make senior dependents eligible for the payments, arguing that it would provide much-needed relief to families who often face both a heavy emotional and financial cost attending to the needs of an older adult.
Expanding the definition of eligible dependents will mean that as many as 26 million more people could qualify for a check, said Kyle Pomerleau, a tax policy expert at the American Enterprise Institute.
Your stimulus package questions answered here: COVID-19 relief package: $1,400 checks, $300 bonus for federal unemployment benefits
Further Protecting Children From Food Hardship
Responding to staggeringly high food hardship among children and stark racial disparities, the House bill includes several provisions to reduce food hardship among children and young adults.
Extending P-EBT through the summer. The bill invests more than $5 billion to allow this highly successful child nutrition program, which addresses the food needs of low-income children during COVID-related school and child care closures, to provide benefits during the summer and through the remainder of the public health emergency, as long as children are missing out on school meals because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Under P-EBT, families approved for free or reduced-price school meals receive the value of these missed breakfasts and lunches through a state-issued, SNAP-like benefit card.
Since establishing P-EBT in the Families First law, policymakers have made several improvements, including expanding eligibility to include certain children under age 6. The House bill clarifies that this expansion applies to Puerto Rico, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and American Samoa as well as the states.
Funding to strengthen and modernize WIC. The bill includes up to $880 million to help more eligible families access WICs proven health and developmental benefits and temporarily increase food benefits.
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What’s In The New Covid Relief Law
Mike DAvolio, CPA, J.D.
The Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021 is a $900B relief package to deliver a second round of economic stimulus for individuals, families, and businesses. The package provides relief through multiple measures and expands many of the provisions already put into place under the CARES Act.
Below are some of the higher-impact items, more important elements of each provision and key callouts critical to tax professionals.
Additional Round of Economic Impact Payments
- Direct payments
- $600 per eligible family member
- $1,200 for married filing joint returns
- $600 per dependent child under 17 years old
- Advance payments are based on information on 2019 tax returns.
- Taxpayers without a social security number are not eligible.
- If the credit determined on the taxpayers 2020 tax return exceeds the amount of the advance payment, the taxpayer will receive the difference as a refundable tax credit. Taxpayers who receive an advance payment that exceeds the credit do not need to repay the amount.
- Key takeaway:
- This measure provides additional, much needed financial assistance for Americans impacted by the global pandemic.
Paycheck Protection Program Loans
Economic Injury Disaster Loan Advance Program
Extension of the Employee Retention Credit
Special lookback for Earned Income Credit and Child Tax Credit
Eviction Moratorium and Rental Assistance
What Was In The $2 Trillion Coronavirus Stimulus Bill
In March 2020, U.S. lawmakers agreed to pass a $2 trillion stimulus bill called the CARES Act to blunt the impact of an economic downturn set in motion by the global coronavirus pandemic.
On March 27, 2020, President Trump signed the bill into law. With most forecasters at the time predicting that the U.S. economy was either already in a recession or heading into one, policymakers crafted legislation that dedicated historic government funding to support large and small businesses, industries, individuals, families, gig workers, independent contractors, and hospitals.
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Covid Relief Bill Gives $86 Billion Bailout To Failing Union Pension Plans
- The $1.9 trillion Covid relief bill offers $86 billion in grants to failing multi-employer pension plans, to help pay benefits for union workers.
- Funding in more than 100 plans are in critical shape. A Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation program that serves as a financial backstop is also nearly insolvent.
- The American Rescue Plan passed the Senate on Saturday. The House is expected to pass it Tuesday.
The $1.9 trillion Covid relief package passed by the Senate on Saturday offers $86 billion in funding to failing pension plans.
The American Rescue Plan, which now heads to the House, would let certain pensions apply for federal grant funding, which would be used to help pay retirement benefits to workers.
The provision applies to multi-employer pensions. These plans pay benefits to union workers in industries such as construction, manufacturing, mining, retail transportation and entertainment.
There are roughly 1,400 such plans in the U.S., covering 10 million people.
Direct Payments For Millions Of Americans
Under the Senate plan, individuals making up to $75,000 and couples making up to $150,000 per year are eligible to receive a $1,400 check. Individuals earning between $75,000 and $80,000 and couples earning between $150,000 and $160,000 will receive some of that money, but not the full amount.
The eligibility thresholds are a change from the Houses initial version, which capped the threshold at $100,000 for individuals and $200,000 for couples. Senate Democrats lowered the eligibility for the stimulus checks to get all Democrats on board after resistance from some moderates in their party.
The decision means that an estimated 17 million Americans who received a check under former President Donald Trump wont get one under Biden, according to a study from the nonpartisan Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy.
Biden said on Saturday that the government will begin sending the checks to eligible Americans this month.
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Will I Get The $300 Even If That Means Ill Be Receiving More In Unemployment Than I Did While Working
Yes, and this has been a major point of contention. With millions of people on unemployment, states dont have the ability to tailor payments so that they replace only lost salary. So in some cases, low-wage earners will receive more from unemployment than they earned when working. Business owners say that makes it difficult to rehire workers.
Any New Spending Vehicle Will Quickly Balloon In Size
Where did the $1.9 trillion in last Marchs spending bill go? Apparently on things other than Covid relief. Health-care providers are begging the Biden Administration for more money. And Congress is cooking up another relief bill for small business, though it will never stop there.
The March bill included $50 billion for small businesses, including $28.6 billion in grants for restaurants, but this money has been depleted. Maryland Sen. Ben Cardin and Mississippis Roger Wicker are cobbling together another relief bill for restaurants. The restaurant money is a fairness issue. Some restaurants got it and others did not, Mr. Cardin said.
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Schools Child Care And Student Debt
The bill includes over $125 billion to help K-12 schools open, with some of the funding targeted at measures that address learning loss since the start of the pandemic.
Republicans offered an amendment to require that schools that receive the funding hold in-person classes once vaccinations are available to teachers, but it failed along party lines.
For younger children, $39 billion goes toward child care providers, who have been financially stressed by the pandemic.
Another $40 billion is set aside for higher education, half of which is reserved for financial aid for students.
The bill also includes a provision that could make it easier for Biden to eliminate student debt later by not requiring beneficiaries to pay taxes on the canceled loans. Biden has said he might cancel up to $10,000 in student debt using executive action some Democrats are pushing him to go higher.
State And Local Government Relief Fund
State and local governments received up to $150 billion in assistance through the new Coronavirus Relief Fund. Three billion dollars was reserved for federally administered territories and $8 billion was reserved for tribal governments. Payments to states and local governments were divided proportionally according to population. These were large, open-ended block grants that were directed toward costs associated with controlling the pandemic and mitigating its economic damage.
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Whats In The Latest Covid
As the American Rescue Plan makes its final way through Congress, Wendy Edelberg examines how the key elements will provide much-needed economic relief to states and families, and make significant cuts in child poverty. Looking ahead, Edelberg recommends that Democrats and Republicans should next put together an infrastructure package to help build a robust, long-term economic recovery.
Listen to Brookings podcasts here, on Apple or on Google podcasts, send email feedback to , and follow us at on Twitter.
Thanks to audio producer Gaston Reboredo, Chris McKenna, Fred Dews, Marie Wilken, and Camilo Ramirez for their support.
PITA: Youre listening to The Current, part of the Brookings Podcast Network. Im your host, Adrianna Pita.
One year ago this week, cities and states across the United States began shutting workplaces and schools, and issuing stay-at-home orders in an effort to control the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. On Wednesday, the House of Representatives is expected to pass the final version of a $1.9 trillion COVID relief bill, a top priority for President Joe Biden and congressional Democrats.
Here to tell us whats included in this round of economic relief is Wendy Edelberg, a senior fellow in Economic Studies and director of The Hamilton Project here at Brookings. Wendy, thanks very much for talking to us today.
Expanded Tax Credits For Families
The bill raises the child tax credit for most families in the coming year by $1,000, to $3,000 per child. Its even more for families with young children: many can receive a credit of $3,600 for each child under age six. All of these credits are fully refundable, and some researchers say these measures could potentially help cut child poverty in half.
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Child Tax Credit And Childcare Services
The bill considers an expanded child tax credit of up to $3,000 per child, or $3,600 for each child under the age of six. The IRS will pay part of this in monthly installments of $250 or $300 from July through December, adding a benefits distributor role to the revenue collection agencys responsibilities .
This one-year expansion would represent near $109 billion as reported by Reuters here , or 5.7%. The bill also includes about $55 billion to be spent on childcare programs and $1 billion for the early learning Head Start program .
Manchin: ‘i’m Not Going To Change My Mind On The Filibuster’
Bottom line: Manchin still supports the filibuster, because he says its important to protect the minority partys rights.
But, hes willing to reform it , and hes willing to use reconciliation on budget-related bills after a bipartisan approach has failed.
Manchin is and always was unlikely to break on filibuster. But as long as hes ok with 50-50 reconciliation votes, youre talking potentially trillions of dollars worth of progressive priorities going through. Thats why this is a BIG interview, NBCs Benjy Sarlin tweeted.
$1.9 trillion: The amount of the massive Covid relief bill that passed through the Senate on Saturday.
$86 billion: The amount in the bill intended to shore up failing pensions.
More than 93 percent: The share of American children who will benefit under the bills expanded aid for kids.
29,125,075: The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States, per the most recent data from NBC News and health officials.
527,569: The number of deaths in the United States from the virus so far, per the most recent data from NBC News.
40,212: The number of people currently hospitalized with coronavirus in the United States.
363.8 million: The number of coronavirus tests that have been administered in the United States so far, according to researchers at The COVID Tracking Project.
90,351,750: Number of vaccine doses administered in the U.S.
30,686,881: People fully vaccinated in the U.S.
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Housing Amtrak And The Arts
The package includes $22 billion in rental assistance, $5 billion in homelessness aid and nearly $10 billion to help homeowners pay mortgages.
The bill allocates $1.7 billion for Amtrak, which the organization suggests it will use to bring back furloughed workers and restore long-distance train services.
Will I Get The $300 Supplement If Im Still Working But My Hours Were Cut
Its an option, but not one that is widely being used. Most states, including California, have programs whereby if your employer certifies each week that you are working reduced hours because of the pandemic, the state pays you a portion of what you would qualify for on unemployment, plus the flat $300 supplement.
But its a complicated process, and your employer must first seek and receive approval from the state.
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