There is a race to get past the stimulus by March 14. Here’s what’s at stake
Millions of Americans will start running out of unemployment benefits in a pandemic in just two weeks, putting increased pressure on the House to quickly pass a final version of President Joe Biden $ 1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package.
Unemployment payments are among the first federal lifelines for December $ 900 billion stimulus package will expire, with additional provisions for extended paid sick and family leave, small businesses, food stamps, housing protections and other relief that expire in the following weeks and months.
The Senate passed his version of the bill on Saturday –And now the House will have to vote on the revised bill before it is sent to Biden for signature.
Meanwhile, time is running out.
Temporary unemployment benefits run out first
Unemployed Americans will receive their last weekly federal boost of $ 300 to unemployment payments in two weeks. And those of two key pandemic unemployment aides will start to run out of benefits at that point.
Some 4 million people benefiting from the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance and Emergency Pandemic Unemployment Compensation programs will see their benefits expire in mid-March, while payments of 7.3 million more people will expire over the next four weeks, according to a recent report Century Foundation report.
The two temporary federal programs were created in Congress’ $ 2 trillion relief package last March and were extended for 11 weeks in the $ 900 billion relief deal spent in December. The former offers benefits to freelancers, concert workers, independent contractors and some people affected by the pandemic, while the latter extends the duration of payments for those under the state’s traditional unemployment system.
The Senate bill calls for expanding these pandemic unemployment programs – as well as providing a $ 300 weekly federal improvement in payments – until September 6. The president’s plan called for benefits to continue until the end of September.
However, even if Biden signs the bill in mid-March, the unemployed may experience a temporary disruption in payments. The US Department of Labor is due to issue guidance on the new law, and many states need time to reprogram their outdated systems with the new provisions.
Delays in the passage and signing of the December relief bill have left the unemployed waiting for $ 17.6 billion in benefits in January, according to another analysis by the Century Foundation.
Payments were eventually sent retroactively, but some of those still eligible for pandemic programs have yet to be reenlisted. In California, for example, it can take until March 7 for everyone to certify their eligibility for federal benefits.
What else expires
Unemployment benefits are not the only aid that expires in the weeks and months to come.
A tax incentive for employers who offer sick leave and extended family leave will expire on March 31 if the bill is not passed by then. Last year, Congress guaranteed many workers two weeks’ pay if they contracted Covid or were in quarantine. It also granted an additional 10 weeks of paid family leave to those who stayed at home with children whose schools were closed. Those benefits expired in December – but employers can still receive a tax credit if they voluntarily provided the extended paid leave until March.
Food stamp recipients receive 15% more benefits until June, thanks to the relief bill that was passed late last year. The latest package would extend it until September.
What is not extended
Even if the bill passes, it will not extend two other benefits that expire on March 31: a key assistance program for small businesses and the federal moratorium on evictions.
The Paycheque Protection Program which provides forgivable loans to struggling small businesses is expected to close on March 31. The bill would not extend the end date, but would add $ 7 billion to the program if passed before the end of the month. It would also provide $ 15 billion for the Disaster Emergency Loan Program, which provides long-term low-interest loans from the Small Business Administration as well as $ 25 billion for a new grants program specifically. intended for bars and restaurants.
The federal eviction moratorium that protects troubled tenants will expire on March 31, but an extension is not allowed in the reconciliation bill. Instead, the extension must be done by executive action. The Biden administration previously extended protection from Jan.31 to March 31 – although the constitutionality of the moratorium is challenged in court.
But the bill would send about $ 19.1 billion to state and local governments to help low-income households cover rent, rent assistance, and utility bills. About $ 10 billion would be authorized to help struggling homeowners pay off their mortgages, utilities and property taxes. It would provide an additional $ 5 billion to help states and communities help those at risk of becoming homeless.
This story was updated with the passage of the Senate.