Stimulus payments from the latest COVID-19 relief package are starting to hit bank accounts and should land in mailboxes in the near future, but the amounts will be noticeably smaller.
This fifth round of COVID-19 stimulus that President Donald Trump signed into law in late December looks like March’s $2.2 trillion CARES Act, but it’s not quite as generous.
The stimulus package will cost about $920 billion, according to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. That’s much closer to the $1 trillion package Republicans launched this summer — and a third of the bill House Democrats passed earlier this year.
Nevertheless, this package includes a mixture of proposals from both parties:
- A Renewal of the Paycheck Protection Program for Small Business Loan Forgiveness
- Funds for the development and distribution of vaccines
- COVID Testing Fund
- Funds to equip schools with protective equipment
- Renewal of unemployment benefits
- Direct stimulus payments
Here’s a look at some of the key differences between the March stimulus package and the new law.
In addition to receiving less money this time around, fewer Americans will receive a check because payments will be reduced to zero sooner.
The deal came as two unemployment programs were set to end on Dec. 26: the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program, which provides assistance to the self-employed, temporary workers and gig workers; and the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation Program, which provides an additional 13 weeks of benefits beyond the typical 26 weeks that states provide to unemployed workers.
Additionally, the law gives unemployed workers an additional $300 on top of their state benefits for 11 weeks.
The bill also grants an additional federal benefit of $100 a week to those who have earned at least $5,000 a year in self-employment income, but are not eligible to receive a more generous unemployment assistance benefit. in the event of a pandemic because they are eligible for public unemployment assistance.
Some workers who have both wage income (W-2) and self-employment income (1099) will be eligible for an additional $100 per week if their state offers it. It’s unclear how states will determine recipient eligibility. The bonus would be in addition to the additional $300 per week and would last until mid-March.
The $920 billion price tag for the new stimulus package is dwarfed by the $2.2 trillion CARES Act passed in the spring, but much of the money from the March bill passed has not been spent and will probably end up financing more than half of this package.
In addition to rising annual deficit spending, funds earmarked for the CARES Act and three other COVID-19 relief measures have committed U.S. debt to levels not seen since World War II.
In May, USA TODAY examined the impact of the first four federal deficit and debt bills. This story follows.
Contributor: Jessica Menton